Subject: Whales respiratory system in comparison to human

Cara M. Gubbins (
Wed, 22 Apr 1998 17:25:38 -0700 (PDT)

I'll try to answer your questions as best I can. You may also want to
check out the Sea World website, because they may have the diagram that
you are looking for.

All whales and dolphins have two nasal passages (just like we do) that
connect their nares to their lungs. Odonotocetes have a single blowhole
and this is thought to be a derived condition - the single opening evolved
later in the evolution of the suborder.

Whales' lungs are arranged along their bodyline and the muscle that
controls breathing, the diaphragm, runs along the length of their lungs,
making each breath a near total replacement of the entire volume of the
lungs. This is also what allows them to exhale and inhale the vast
quantities of air in a short time.

I hope this helps,

On Tue, 21 Apr 1998, CP Wedel wrote:

> Dear Cara:  Hi!  I am a student in the six grade in Tucson, Arizona. I have a
> few questios and need your help.  First, where could I obtain a picture of a
> whales respiratory system? Why do rorqual whales have two blowholes?  How do
> whales exchange their oxygen as compared to humans? How are they able to expel
> and inhale 2000 liters of air within 2 seconds?  Do they have cilia?  Can you
> explain the differences and the similarities and any peculiararites. Also, if
> there is any other information that you thnk would be helpful, please include.
> Thank you very much for any help that you can be.  Sincerely, Collin Wedel my
> address: