Subject: Various questions

Jennifer D. Philips (
Tue, 5 Nov 1996 18:10:42 -1000 (HST)

Carissa and Aubrey - 

Here are the answers to your questions!  

> 1.How many vertibrae does a humpback whale have? 

Unfortunately, I don't know this!  I have looked it up in all my books,
but I can't seem to find the answer.  But I *can* tell you this - dolphins
like the bottlenosed dolphin have about 33 vertebrae, humans have about 33
vertebrae when we are born (then a few of the vertebrae fuse as we
mature), so I would guess that whales have about the same number as other
mammals like dolphins and humans.  I'm sorry that I can't give you an
exact number!  

>2.Why do they only keep killer and beluga whales in captivity and 
>       not any other whales?

Other whales, like humpback whales, gray whales, and blue whales are too
HUGE to keep in captivity.  Can you imagine keeping an animal that swims
thousands of miles each year in a small tank?  Actually there was once  a
baby gray whale in captivity, her name was Gina.  But as soon as she
started growing up, she got too big for her tank (or any tank) so she was
released.  Killer whales and beluga whales are actually not "whales" like
the blue or humpback.  They don't grow anywhere near as big as blue
whales, and they eat fish, unlike true whales, which eat krill.  Did you
know there are also false killer whales in captivity?  I work with one at
my lab.

>3.How many baleen plates do humpback whales have and how many rows 
>  rows of baleen plates do they have?	

Humpbacks have 270 - 400 baleen plates on each side of their mouth.  The
plates are positioned side by side, so they look like rows, but they are
actually individual plates hanging down from the upper jaw along each side
of the whale's mouth.  More interesting info about humpback whale baleen:
the plates can be 2 feet long and a foot wide.  But if you think that's
long, think about the baleen of the right whale.  It can be as long as 6
feet, hanging down inside the whale's mouth!

>4.Do you think they could keep a larger whale in captivity?

See my answer for #1.  Large baleen whales need huge amounts of ocean to
survive.  Their social groups are very spread out, they eat tons of krill
- basically everything they do is in large scale.  I just don't think it
would be possible to keep such an animal in captivity for very long.

>5.Have you ever seen a whale in real life and if you have, what kind
>       was it?

Yes!  I have!  I've seen:  humpback whales, blue whales, gray whales,
minke whales, and killer whales.  All of these whales were in Monterey
Bay, California when I saw them.  They were amazing and beautiful!

Thanks for your questions!  I this information helps!  Please write again
if you want to know anything else.

Jen Philips

>  We hpoe you can answer these questions!!!!!!!
> 																		           Sincerely,
>                                Carissa and Aubrey from Mrs. Heinrich's
>                                                           class


Jennifer D. Philips

Marine Mammal Research Program - HIMB		(808) 236-4001
University of Hawaii, Manoa          
Honolulu, HI  96822	      "First, there were some amoebas. Deviant
			       amoebas adapted better to the environment,
			       thus becoming monkeys..."