Subject: Re: Whale Questions

Daniel K. Odell (
Fri, 31 Jan 1997 23:31:18 -0500 (EST)

Dear class:

Most of the questions you asked are impossible to answer.

1.  Humpback whales, like all baleen whales, have two blowholes.  This is
just the way they evolved. 

2.  Whales and dolphins evolved in salt water systems along with the
microorganisms (bacteria, etc) that live there. Putting them in fresh
water exposes them to different organisms that could damage their skin.
However, some dolphins have evolved to live in freshwater (the
river dolphins like the baiji, bouto, and susu).  Beluga whales enter
river mouths for their annual moult.

3.  We really don't know what male narwhals do with their tusks. 

4.  The white color of beluga whales may serve as camouflage because they
often live among ice bergs.

5.  When whales and dolphins dive they close their blow holes with
muscular plugs that keep the water out.

6.  Whales have pectoral fins (flippers), tail fins (flukes) and most have
a dorsal fin.  Some, like the beluga whale and the narwhal, don't have
dorsal fins. This could be because they often swim under the ice and the
dorsal fin would be damaged.  Beluga whales have apparently been known to
break through thin ice with their backs.  However, some dolphins that live
in warmer waters don't have dorsal fins either.  The right whale dolphin
is an example.  We don't know why they lack a dorsal fin.

Dan Odell
Sea World

 On Fri, 31 Jan 1997, wrote:

> Hi,
> These questions were formulated by First gade students in
> Mrs. Gladestone class.
> 1. Why do Humpbacks have two blowholes.
> 2. Why do whles need salt water.
> 3. What does the Narwhal do with his tusk
> 4. Why do Beluga whales turn white?
> 5. When whales dive does water get in their blowholes?
> 6. Why do some whales not have fins?
> 7. Does salty water burn whales eyes?
> We are a school of approx. 800 students in Washingtonville, NY
> Thanks for your help.
> Enjoy,
> Greg Wing