Saturday, May 1, 2010

What About Whales?


To add to my numerous fascinations, let’s add whales. I love whales. I find them to be incredibly enchanting. *grin*.

An awesome sight to see, a Mom and her baby spy hopping off Northern Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Out of the blue, the pod that these orca whales belong to, starting spy hopping and playing in the kelp nearby. These northern resident killer whales seemed to be checking out their surroundings. It is believed that their sight is as good above the water as it is underwater.


Humpbacks hail from the family of whales called "rorquals," which includes the fin whale, the sei whale, and the blue whale, the world's largest animal. Blue whales can grow to 100 feet (30 meters) and weigh up to 330,000 pounds (150 metric tons), bigger than any dinosaur we've yet discovered.

blue whale skeleton

At 45 feet (14 meters) and 80,000 pounds (36 metric tons), humpbacks aren't nearly as big as cousin Blue. But they can sing and dance. Humpbacks are the most vocal of all whales, and among the most acrobatic.


Sometimes they leap entirely out of the ocean. It's common among males during mating season, when humpbacks migrate from polar feeding grounds to tropical breeding grounds. It's also during mating season that humpback males sing their syntactically sophisticated songs, presumably in pursuit of humpback gals.

Click to listen to [whale songs and more]

Like all rorquals, humpbacks are baleen whales. They feed by taking huge mouthfuls of seawater--literally tons of it--then forcing the water out between hundreds of plates of baleen (a.k.a. "whalebone") that hang from the roofs of their mouths. The baleen plates work like a sieve, letting water out but keeping krill and other munchable marine life in.

whale mouth

To catch that seafood dinner, humpbacks sometimes use a unique technique called "bubblenetting." First, one or more humpbacks swim in a circle beneath a school of fish, blowing bubbles that float up to form a wall around their prey. Then the humpbacks swim up through their "bubblenet," slurping the fish-filled water as they go.




Do you find them as intriguing as I do?


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