Interesting Whale Facts:

In General:

–In order to adapt to life as a water mammal, whales evolved complete control over their respiratory systems. A whale has to consciously make a decision to breathe.

–Because whales have to consciously think to breathe, they have a unique problem when it comes to sleeping. They solve this by a process called unihemispherical sleeping, in which a whale shuts down one half of its brain (and the opposite eye), while the other half remains in operation. They switch sides every few hours until rested.

–Whales easily swim hundreds of miles and specific whales have been sighted in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans within just a few months.

–Whales have the largest brains of any mammals, up to 20 pounds, easily besting the largest human brain (2kg) achieved by Turgenev.

–There have been multiple incidents during which a whale has exploded.

–There are two main suborders of whales, the mysticeti (“mustached whales”, because they sort of look like they have beards) and the odontoceti (“toothed whales”)

Odontoceti only have one blowhole, usually off center. Mysticeti have two.

Right Whales

–Are so called because they were known as the “right” whale to hunt, being slow, generally docile, blubber-ful and buoyant when dead.

–Northern Atlantic right whales are so over hunted (there are 300 or so remaining) that all come from only three unique family lines (yes, marine biologists mapped the family trees of these remaining whales).

–There is a theory that whales have an acoustic map of the world memorized, an enormous echolocation map of the sea floor.

–Right whales gangbang.

Humpback Whales

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–Humpback whales have a unique feeding strategy: they exhale bubbles in a great spiraling cone formation in order to confuse and entrap a school of fish in a concentrated bubble tornado. The whales then take a big bite out of the center.

–40 ton humpback whales bash each other bloody for mating rights.

–Humpbacks have an amazing whale song, or booty call, which consists of a theme which they continually make variations on. Whole groups of humpbacks will sing the same song in time with each other.

Sperm Whales

(Physeter macrocephalus “big-headed blower” or Physeter catodon “lower-toothed blower”)

–Can easily dive to 10,000 feet and stay under for up to two hours.

–Largest nostril of any animal (only one), and largest head of any animal.

–Begin to erupt teeth around 10 years of age.

–Exchange 85-90% of air in lungs.

–Most ribs aren’t connected to the sternum, allowing compression under pressure.

–Largest toothed mammal, but only has teeth on its lower jaw.

–Periodically eats people. Prefers squid.

No one is quite sure why sperm whales have their characteristic enormous heads, which early whalers really did think was full of sperm. Hypotheses include:

  • Regulating buoyancy and somehow allowing it to hold its breath longer.
  • Sperm whales use them for battle, ramming each other like pachycephalosaurs competing for a mate. This might also explain their tendency to ram ships.
  • Echolocation amplifier (to the point at which marine biologists suspect sperm whales even stun their prey with sonic bursts.) The sperm whale was known as the “carpenter of the sea” because its clicks sounded like hammering through the hulls of ships.
  • Sperm whales communicate in specific sets of clicks, known as codas, which marine biologists are currently attempting to decode. Different click dialects have been noted among different groups of sperm whales

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