Mr and Mrs Smith's Life Science

Whale Information                                          
Last Updated   2/5/2003

Sperm Whales have the largest brain on the planet. It may weigh 20 pounds.

The fin whale is one of the fastest whales. They can swim over 20 miles per hour for short periods.

The blue whale is the largest whale. They may grow up to 100 feet and weigh as much as several elephants.

The harbor porpoise is one of the smallest whales. They grow to only about 5 feet in length.

Killer whales are the largest dolphins. They get their name because they sometimes eat other, larger whales.

A humpback whale may eat up to a ton of food every day.

Whales can't breathe through their mouths. The mouth is connected directly to the stomach. They breathe through their blow holes, which go to the lungs.

A sperm whale can hold its breath for at least an hour.

The voice of the blue whale is one of the deepest voices on the planet. It is so powerful that it can travel for perhaps a hundred miles underwater.

The blubber on a whale which lives in very cold water may reach up to 20 inches thick. It is used to insulate the whale and also as an emergency food store.

Whales do not spout water. They are letting out air from their lungs. The warm air forms a cloud, like ours does in the winter. As it comes out it will also push any water which is covering the blow hole high into the air.

A new born baby blue whale may weigh two tons and be 25 feet long.

Some whales do not have teeth. They have baleen instead. The largest baleen is that of the bowhead whale, whose baleen may be up to 10 feet long.

There is a toothed whale which only has two teeth. Narwhales have one tooth hidden under the gums, but in the males the other tooth sticks out from their head like a tusk, which may grow to be 8 feet long.

Baleen Whales

Humpback

Grey Whale

Fin Whale

Sei Whale

Right Whale

Bowhead Whale

Byrdes Whales

Blue Whale

Toothed Whales

Narwhal

Orcas/Killer Whales

Minke Whale

Sperm Whales

Beluga Whale

Other Resources

Beaked Whales

Whaling

Teacher Resources

Whale Names

Humpback whale: Megaptera noveangliae

Mega-large or big
Ptera-wing
nove-new
angliae-england (from Middle English rather than Latin)

Blue whale: Balaenoptera musculus

Balaena-whale
musculus-mouse! (perhaps meant as a joke because blue whales are so large. Maybe a corruption actually meant as muscular)

Minke whale: Balaenoptera acutorostrata

Acuto-sharp
rostrata-nose (from rostrum)

Sei whale: Balaenoptera borealis

borealis-northern

Atlantic White-sided Dolphin: Lagenorhynchus acutus

Lagenos-bottle or flask (Greek)
rhychus-snout, beak

Narwhal: Monodon monoceros

Mono-one
odon-tooth
ceros-horn (all from Greek)

Long-finned Pilot Whale: Globicephala melaena

globi-ball, globe
cephala-head (Greek)
melaena-black (Greek)