Subject: Hello these are my questions about Whales.

Phil Clapham (
Tue, 19 Jan 1999 08:46:40 -0500

Hey Heather:

Here are some answers:
>First What is the most famous or well known whale?

Depends on how you define it, I guess.  Humpbacks are probably the most
familiar whales these days because so many people see them from
whalewatches and in the media.  Killer whales are also very "popular".

>What do whales eat for dinner?  Do they have anything to drink?  
Depends on the whale.  Baleen whales (like humpbacks, blues, right
whales etc) eat anything from plankton (including krill) to small fish,
but again this varies depending on the kind of whale.  Blue whales eat
almost nothing except krill, right whales eat only plankton, and
humpbacks eat krill and lots of different kinds of fish.  Toothed whales
like dolphins and sperm whales eat fish or squid, but there are many
different species of toothed whales and their diets vary a lot.  Whales
don't "drink" in the sense we think of it.  They get their fresh water
from their food, and have very spoecialized kidneys for dealing with

>How many whales have you studied?  Why do you like studying whales?
I've studied most of the baleen whales: humpbacks (a lot), right whales
(a lot), fin whales (a lot), minkes (a lot), blue whales (some),
bowheads (one project), sei whales (occasionally).  I've studied toothed
whales rather less: sperm whales (occasionally), various kinds of
dolphins (a lot, especially white-sided dolphins).  I love studying
whales because they're fascinating animals and they're very fun to be
around.  It also gets me out onto the ocean a lot, which is just about
my favorite place to be.

>How many different kinds of whales are there in the world?  
There are about 78 species.  I say "about" because there's a lot of
argument about what a species is, and in some cases whether a particular
whale is one or more species.  Take right whales, for example: they're
found in both northern and southern hemispheres, and are considered two
species.  But some people think it's only one.  Most species of cetacean
(the name for all whales, dolphins and porpoises) are toothed (like
dolphins or sperm whales).  There are around 11 species of baleen

>That is all thankyou very much.

You're welcome!


>                                                                             Si
> ncerely,
>                                                  Heather Brown, Mrs. Buwalda's
> third grade class.


Phillip J. Clapham, Ph.D.
Northeast Fisheries Science Center
166 Water Street
Woods Hole, MA 02543

tel (508) 495-2316
fax (508) 495-2066