Subject: whale swim speed, etc.

Leah Gerber (
Sun, 29 Mar 1998 02:45:14 -0800

At 10:52 PM 3/23/98 -0700, you wrote:
>Dear Dr. Gerber,
>We are kindergarten students in Kimball, Nebraska.  We are learning about
the ocean in our class and would like to ask you some questions.
>	1.  How many different kinds of whales are there?
>	2.  How and why do whales squirt water out of their spouts?
>	3.  How fast can a whale swim?
>	4.  How old do whales live to be?
>We hope you will answer us.  Our e-mail address is
>Thank you.
>The Kimball Kindergarten Class

Dear Kimball class

To answer your questions:

1. The order cetacea (whales dolphins and porpoises) includes 2 suborders
-- the mystecetes and the odontocetes.  The mystecetes include 3 families: 
Baleanopteridae (6 species)
Balaenidae (2 species)
Eschrichtidae (1 species)

The odontocetes include 5 families: 
Ziphiidae (8 species)
Physeteridae (3 species)
Monodonte (2 species)
Delphinidae (15 species)
Phocoenidae (3 species)

2. They are actually not squirting water from their spouts. Instead they
are exhaling air from their blowholes. Whales are marine mammals and breath
air. Blowholes are like nostrils.

3. Most whales swim between 4-6 knots withbursts of speeds to catch food or
mates that may be twice that.