Baby Whales

From: Kim Marshall (kimm@oceanalliance.org)
Date: Mon Sep 22 2003 - 13:52:41 EDT

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    Question:
    Hi Kim, My grade three class has come up with two questions for you:
    First, do baby whales have to grow the baleen or are they born with it?
    Second, how do they get the milk out? Does the mother have a teat, or a
    tube of some kind that the baby sucks on? Where is it located? Come to
    think of it, I wonder if baby toothed whales are born with their teeth (ouch
    mamma) or do they grow them?

    Reply:
    Dear Lenore,
    Thank you for your questions. Baleen whales are born with baleen and the
    baleen will grow proportionately with the whale. As soon as they are born
    they begin to suckle from their mother. The mother has teats that the calf
    sucks on by folding its tongue in a way that wraps around the teat. The
    fatty milk is then injected into the mouth of the calf. The nursing glands
    are near the belly button area on the underside of the whale. She will turn
    on her side to help the calf nurse when it is born.

    Toothed whales are born without teeth but within weeks the teeth are
    budding. All whales nurse for at least 8 months and some up to 20 months
    but they can begin eating solid food after a few months.

    Please search WhaleNet for additional information at
    http://whale.wheelock.edu/archives/.

    Thanks again!
    Kim

    Kim Marshall
    Executive Director
    Ocean Alliance (Whale Conservation Inst. & the Voyage of the Odyssey)
    191 Weston Road, Lincoln, MA 01773
    781.259.0423 ext. 14 fax 259.0288
    www.oceanalliance.org www.pbs.org/odyssey
    Please support our efforts to conserve whales and their ocean environment
    through research and education :)



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