whale ecology (fwd)

From: Pita Admininstrator (pita@whale.wheelock.edu)
Date: Tue Feb 08 2005 - 23:27:50 EST

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    From: Pieter Folkens <onporpoise@sbcglobal.net>
    To: GymboreeSI@aol.com, pita@whale.wheelock.edu
    Subject: whale ecology

    > WHat is a whales shelter or environment?
    > What does it eat and how does it obtain its food?
    > Explain a whale's adaptaion that helps it live and
    > grow.

    By definition, whales live in the marine
    environment—that is, all the oceans of the world.
    There are a few species of dolphins that live in
    freshwater rivers. Being relatively large and at or
    near the top of the feeding chain, they have no

    There are more than 80 species of organisims in the
    order Cetacea (Whales and dolphins). There are two
    primary living groups based on fundamental ways of
    obtaining food: Mysticetes which are "filter feeders"
    and Odontocetes which are single prey item feeders.

    Mysticetes have baleen which acts much like a comb or
    sieve and is used to keep small invertebrates and
    small fish trapped in the whale's mouth. The food gets
    into the whale's mouth by skimming (right whales),
    gulping (finner whales), or sucking (gray whales).

    Odontocetes have teeth which is used to grasp fish or
    other prey items one at a time.

    The essential adaptations of whales are to be able to
    swim efficiently in water and to manage their body
    temperature in a marine environment which ranges from
    warm tropical water to polar ice. In warm water they
    have mechanisms designed to help them "dump" heat
    through convection and conduction, and in cold water
    the ability to conserve heat through blubber
    insulation and blood flow management.

    I hope these answers cover your questions in general.
    They are complex subjects with subitle variations
    across the collection of 80 or so species of whales.


    Pieter Folkens

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