Subject: class questions about whales

Leah Gerber (
Sun, 29 Mar 1998 18:04:31 -0800

Dear class,

I have done my best to answer your second set of questions. Thanks for your
interest, it has been fun.

At 01:41 PM 3/26/98 -0500, you wrote:
>Dear Leah,
>This is the second set of questions from the fourth graders at Truro
>Central School.
>Thank you for helping our unit be a success!  
>How many live Blue Whales swimming in the ocean have you seen?  Joe M.

I have seen many blue whales swimming in the ocean -- probably about 300
during one 2 weeklong survey.

>How long is it for a mom Blue Whale to have a calf?  Joe M.

In general, large whales reach sexual maturity between 5 and 8 years old.

>Do whales migrate at the same time of year?  RJ C.

Yes, in general migration patterns are the same year to year but may vary
by a few weeks depending on food availability and other factors.

>Do whales migrate earlier if it's been a mild winter- warmer than usual?
>(normal water temperatures) RJ C

Interesting question. There is no evidence to answer the question, but it
does seem that whales may stagger their migration depending upon
environmental conditions such as temperature.

>How close have you come to a whale in person? Jenny S.

I have been about 5 feet away from a humpback whale swimming in Hawaii.

>What was the biggest Humpback you ever saw? Jenny S.

I saw a blue whale that was about 100 feet long!

>What are rorquals?  Ryan V.

Rorquals are a group of baleen whales in the balaenopteridae family.  These
include the minke, fin, blue, sei, Brydes and humpback whales.

>What does Megapterinae mean?  Ryan V.

Megaptera novaeangliae is the latin name for humpback whales (I think that
is the question?)

>What is the sperm whale's unique behavior?  JACOB M

Sperm whales are very deep divers.

>What are some unique behaviors of the Right whale?  Lucy B.

Right whales are very rare in the North Pacific and North Atlantic oceans.
In both oceans combined, there are less than 600!

>What is your favorite whale? Morgan H.

I like all whales. 

>Why do Narwhals have spots on them?   Colin M.

Spots on Narwhals are pigmentation patterns, similar to freckles on people.

>How old do right whales get to be?  Jessica M

We do not know this very well. They can live to be at least 50, and maybe
even to 100.

>How many whales were seen at one time?Jessica M

I have seen groups of 15 humpback whales feeding together in Alaska.

>Which whale has the biggest baleen? Jessica M

The blue whale, because it is the largest whale.

>How fast can Right whales travel?  Lee R.

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

>Jessica Borsari, Fourth Grade Teacher
>Maureen Hourihan, Fourth Grade Teacher
>Sara Hutchings, Media Specialist
>Roberta Endich, Guest Instructor