Subject: Callosities on Right Whales

Jen Philips (
Thu, 11 Dec 1997 21:46:37 -1000 (HST)

On Mon, 8 Dec 1997 wrote:

> Hi Jen.
> I am writing on behalf of our first through third grade elementary 
> science students who are currently studying whales.  We would like to 
> know what causes callosities found on the bodies of right whales.  We 
> found this term in a resource book, however, it didn't clearly define 
> what it is and how it forms.  
> Can you help us, please?
> Jenene Smith, Second Grade Teacher
> Hayes Center Elementary
> Hayes Center, Nebraska

Jenene and class - 

Thanks for your question.  Callosities on right whales
form from the thickening of their skin in spots along their head.  Its a
natural process that all right whales undergo as they mature, so the spots
are not believe to mean that the whales were injured or diseased in these
areas.  Basically, they are a lot like the calouses that form on your
hands and feet from hanging on bars or running in uncomfortable shoes,
except for the whales, they just grow normally.  Once they develop these
callosities, parasites start to live on them, causing them to look white,
brownish, or pink.  (Whales have a lot of skin 'parasites').  I hope this
sheds some more light on your question.  Write to us again is you would
like more info!


Jen Philips  

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..."       - S.Adams