Subject: Whale body size

Jennifer D. Philips (
Fri, 30 Oct 1998 10:20:53 -1000

>Why are whales able to grow so big?

The main reason whales are able to grow so big is because they live in the
ocean.  It is, in fact, no coincidence that the largest animals living on
earth live in the ocean.  Scientists believe that the weightlessness of the
ocean makes large body size possible.  Otherwise, the skeleton could never
support such a weight on land.  Another factor making whales so large is
their diet.  Basically, the lower a predator feeds from the food chain, the
more energy it will gain from the food.  Large whales, being top on the
food chain, feed very very low, on things that even fish and other lower
animals feed on.  What this means is that all the energy krill has packed
in its little body get transferred right over to the whale.  Whales then
eat a ton of it per day.  The result is a lot of energy to grow very big!

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Aloha -
Jen Philips

Jennifer D. Philips

Marine Mammal Research Program
HIMB, University of Hawaii at Manoa
PO Box 1106			
Kailua, HI  96734
voice:  (808) 247-5063
fax: (808) 247-5831