Whales, misc questions on biology and conservation

From: Dagmar Fertl (dfertl@geo-marine.com)
Date: Mon Oct 25 2004 - 12:21:03 EDT

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    Many thanks for your informative answers. Now for questions from the other
    half of the class. Sorry, if we are overwhelming you!

    From Alison and Jamie: Which do you like more, dolphins or whales? How
    many whales have been tagged in the last decade? What is the weirdest
    whale that you have ever seen?

    From Lily and Matt P.: What is the biggest whale you have ever seen?Do you
    usually study the larger or smaller whales and why? When did you first
    start to study whales?

    From Georgianna and Matthew G.: What are some of the problems that humans
    inflict on whales and how are the whales affected? What are people doing
    to solve those problems?

    From Julie and Peter S.: How many whales have you seen? Where is the most
    dangerous places for whales to swim?

    Peter K. and Maddie: What modern animal did prehistoric whales look like?
    What was the first kind of whale that you ever saw?

    Sue Shirley
    Dedham Country Day School
    Dedham, MA


    Dear Alison and Jamie:

    Dolphins actually are whales, just small whales. So, I guess the answer is
    that I like all whales! :-)

    I have no idea how many whales have been tagged. Many, many, many. Hundreds,
    probably thousands.

    The wierdest whale I've seen? I haven't seen any wierd whales myself, but
    there are definetely some strange looking species out there, like some of
    the beaked whales, the narwhal, the river dolphins, etc.

    Dear Lily and Matt P.:

    The biggest whale is a blue whale (longer than 3 school buses put
    together!). I saw one in Monterey Bay, California a very long time ago. I've
    seen sperm whales pretty regularly in the Gulf of Mexico.

    I've studied both large and small whales (assuming you saw my message to
    Alison and Jamie), but probably have studied dolphins (small whales) more.
    There are just more small whales than there are large whales, and dolphins
    can come close to shore in the Gulf of Mexico, whereas large whales do not.

    My first time studying/working with dolphins was back in 1986 when I had a
    research internship at Kewalo Basin Marine Mammal Laboratory in Hawaii. That
    was just for a few months that I did that, but I really got into studying
    marine mammals back in 1989 where I studied bottlenose dolphins in Galveston
    Bay, Texas.

    Dear Georgianna and Matthew G.:

    Problems whales face - a ton of them, but people are working to solve them!
    I suggest looking back thru the WhaleNet archives for discussions of this,
    because there are lots of books that talk about this exactly.

    Dear Julie and Peter S.:

    By how many whales, I'm not sure if you mean how many different kinds or how
    many animals total. In total, it would be thousands of dolphins and whales.
    For species, it would be a combination of those in captivity and in the
    wild. Probably around 50 or so.

    The most dangerous place for whales to swim? Probably anywhere that there is
    lots of boat traffic, because there is also lots of noise and chemical
    pollution in those same areas (along the coasts), but out in the open ocean,
    it is dangerous also with boats there and fishing nets.

    Dear Peter K. and Maddie:

    Prehistoric whales looked like a hoofed wolf called a 'mesonychid
    condylarth'. There are pictures online. The closest living relatives of
    whales are cows.

    First kind of whale....do you mean in the wild or on TV, etc. Probably the
    bottlenose dolphin...it is likely the first 'whale' everyone sees.


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