Subject: SEI WHALES

Tori (cullins@hawaii.edu)
Mon, 19 May 1997 17:25:05 -1000

   
I am in 5th grade and writing a report on the Sei Whales.  I wanted to know
what shape the blowhole is ( I think it is oval, but I am not sure).
 Approximately how many Sei whales are there now and where is their principal
habitat?  They are endangered, but what were they primarily hunted for?  Do
they have ears?  If you know of any other interesting facts about Sei Whales,
I would appreciate it.  

Thank you for your help.

Brett Bannon
5th grade
Arnold Elementary School
Torrance, Ca



Hey Brett!

I guess you don't ahve much time to write this as the school year is
almost over. You haven't been putting this off have you? I am going to my
"Whales of the World" book to answer your questions. I am not a Sei Whale
expert, but am happy to learn with you. I do know that baleen whales have
two blowholes, while toothed whales have one. All the baleen whales I have
seen have oval blowholes that look like nostrils on top of their heads.
All the toothed whales I have seen (including dolphins and killer whales)
have rounder blowholes. So which is a Sei whale? Baleen or toothed?  Here
is hint if you don't already know. The scientific name of the Sei whale is
Balaenoptera borealis. Does that help (balaen-baleen?) If you put the
scientific name in your report be sure to write just the way I did and
then underline it, if you're writing by hand. If by computer, use italics.
Your teacher will be impressed. 
Ok now, how many are left. From the 1994 edition of the National Marine
Fisheries Service Office of Protected Resources, "Status of Recovery
Programs, Jan. 1992 - June 1994, here is a Sei whale estimated population.
The number is . . . (drum roll, please) 25,000. Yikes! The sei whale was
hunted extensively after the larger blue and fin whales were about killed
off. It is reported that in one whaling session alone, 20,000 sei whales
were taken by Antartic fleets in this southern ocean. Wow! That gives you
an idea of how amny sei whales there used to be! This commercial whaling
was stopped in 1977, before you were even born. Sei whales, were
thought to have the best tasting meat of the large whales. Thats what
they were primarily hunted for. 
The sei whales are found in oceans all over the world. In your area Brett
(kinda), they are found off the central California coast during the late
summer and early fall. They are pelagic whales, which means they are found
in deeper waters of the open ocean, not usually near the coast. 
Yes, they do have ears. In fact, this is one way scientist can tell the
age of a (dead) whale. Their ears have a membrane covering so water does
not get inside (always dry your ears when you get out of the ocean!).
Because of this membrane, no wax can come out of thier ears, so it forms a
plug in the ear canal. By measuring this plug, scientists can estimate the
age of the whale. Of ocurse they kill the whale for this purpose, but use
this method on whales that have died to due to stranding or things like
that. Being a scientist is not always a glamourous job.
OK, now to the book to find some interesting facts. The sei whale was
given its name due the sei fish that it accompanies into the fjords of
Norway (can you say fjord?). The sei whale is the third largest of the
great whales, with blue and fin whales being bigger. It is up to 60 feet
long. That would be 1 and 1/2 city buses. Female whales are bigger than
male whales. Sei whales have been attacked by small sharks and killer
whales. You never see a sei whales tail when it dives. Brett, you get to
look for some other facts. Have fun and thanks for writing, good luck on
your report!

Tori