Wow, you have a lot of questions. I';ll give you many of the answers (see
below, inserted after questions). You can get the answers for any that I
don't provide by searching the whalenet site ("How to Find"
----- Original Message -----
From: "Sue Shirley" <email@example.com>
Sent: Friday, September 05, 2003 8:01 AM
Thank you very much in advance for answering my fifth grade students'
questions. We started school yesterday so, as you can tell from their
questions, they don't know much about whales yet!
1. From Eva and Kim: Why do Narwhals have horns?
Only males have horns. They are used to establish dominance among males for
access to females (the same way elk or deer use their antlers).
2. How do whales get collosities?
Callosities are found on right whales. They are made of a tough horny
material and are probably used by males to fight for a position beside a
female during mating.
3. From Scott and Michael B. : Are dolphins whales or are whales dolphins?
Dolphins are small toothed whales.
4. From Shay, Timmy, and Peter: Where can you find blue whales?
Blue whales are found in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, in both
5. From Mariah and Allie: How did you become interested in whales?
I have been interested in whales since i was really young. I read my parents
Life books on animals and birds and really liked looking at the whale
6. From John F. and Dylan: How big do blue whales get?
The average length of a Blue Whale is 75-80 feet and these long marine
mammals can weigh up to 200,000 pounds. Whales in the southern hemisphere
are generally larger than those in the northern hemisphere. One whale
captured in the southern hemisphere reached lengths up to 110 feet. Females
are usually larger than males of the same age.(http://www.nceas.ucsb.edu/nce
7. How many species of whales have teeth?
There are more than 70 species toothed whales and dolphins (called
odontocetes) including sperm whales, orcas, beluga, narwhales and a large
number of smaller species (includes dolphins, river dolphins, beaked whales,
8. From Rebecca and Cassie: What is the smallest whale and how small is it?
The smallest of the baleen whales is the pygmy right whale, which may only
grow to be 20 feet long. BUT, since the pygmy right whale has rarely been
seen, very very little is known about it, and it may be larger than that.
The smallest of the well known whales is the minke whale, which grows to be
about 35 feet.
The toothed whales are much smaller than the baleen whales. These are not
the true "whales" (which usually means baleen whales). There's the dwarf
sperm whale, the melon headed whale, and the pygmy killer whale, each of
which get to maximum lengths of about 8 feet (the size of regular
dolphins). But, remember that all whales and dolphins together are called
"Cetaceans". Some Cetaceans have baleen instead of teeth, and they are
called whales. All other Cetaceans have teeth. Some toothed Cetaceans are
called whales, some are dolphins, and some are porpoises. ( answered by Jen
Smallest whale is the
9. Why are whales so big?
Largest whales are the baleen species. They are low on the food web and so
are able to grow very large.
10. From Julia and Stacy: How many baby whales can a whale have at one time?
Usually females have a single calf at a time.
11. How many species of whales are there? How deep can whales dive?
There are a lot of whale species (more than 70 toothed whales , odontocetes)
plus 11 baleen species. (look at this link:
12. From Traylor, and Ben: How many whales are in one pod?
Depends upon the species (orca pods can have as many as 50 individuals) and
some species are not social so they don't form pods but instead hang out
alone or with one or two other whales except when they gather in larger
groups for mating.
13. How much blubber does a whale have?
Depends upon the species. Right whales have the most with about 23 cm on
average. The thickness varies by season and by breeding stage.
14. From John F. and Andrew: Why do some whales have dorsal fins?
Most species have dorsal fins which may help the animals move through the
water. However, since a number of species do not have fins (e.g., right
whales, bowhead and finless porpoise) obviously whales can swim without them
15. How long can a sperm whale hold its breath?
All whales and dolphins are mammals and so must hold their breath when they
are under water. Some can only hold their breath for 3-5 minutes. But then
there are the champion breath holders, the sperm whale and beaked whales,
who can hold their breath for over an hour!
16. How much does a baby blue whale weigh?
The newborn calf is about 25 feet long (7.6 m) and weighs about 6-8 tons
17. From Sam and Michael M.: What are the bristles in the bowhead whale's
The bristles are actually called baleen. The animals use them to sift out
food from the water they take into their mouth.
18. How long can a blue whale hold its breath?
About 30 minutes.
19. From Jackie and Raquel: How many babies does a female right whale have?
Usually she has one calf.
20. How do whales digest their food?
Hmm, I'm not sure but i suspect they do it the same way humans do -- with
digestive enzymes and churning of the stomach.
21. From Zoe and Jaclyn: Why do you live in Wash, D.C. if there are no
around? I work at a university, American University in Washington DC. I go
off to the ocean when i need to watch the whales i study.
22. Why do bowhead whales have growths on their heads?
I think that you mean right whales. The growths are callosities and are made
of a hard horny material. They may be used by males to fight for a position
Dedham Country Day School
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Sep 12 2003 - 10:02:22 EDT