Whale (animal) – Information, reproduction and characteristics

We explain what whales are, what their habitat is, how they reproduce and what their diet is like. Also, how long do they live.

Among the whales are the largest animals in the world.

What are whales?

The whales They are a group of marine cetacean mammals, of which four different species are known to date. However, the term “whale” It is in common use for any large cetaceanlike sperm whales. Humanity has known these animals since ancient times and was often inspired by them to fable mythological sea monsters.

These are large marine life animals, among whose species are the largest living animals on the planet (the blue whale, Balaenoptera musculus).

Like all mammals, whales are warm-blooded, air-breathing animals. capable of spending long periods of time submerged and then coming to the surface to replenish their air reserves and to expel the water from their lungs by means of a jet that rises through the air, and that is one of the typical features of their presence.

Whales are often considered a kind of immense “sea cows”, that is, tame animals that roam the deep seas, and that do not represent any danger to humanity, or to other species beyond the small organisms of which feed.

Whale characteristics

whale characteristics
Whales have lungs, so they must surface to breathe.

Broadly speaking, whales are characterized by the following:

  • They are very bulky animals, one of the largest that exist on the planet, whose bodies can exceed, depending on the species, 35 meters of wingspan and hundreds of tons. There are also smaller species, which can be around 3 meters long and weigh much less.
  • They are marine mammals, that is, warm-blooded and air-breathing animals, for which they have two holes (spiracles) at the top of their head, through which they can expel the accumulated water and carry out the gas exchange. For this last reason they have a vertically arranged tail, which allows them to quickly ascend and descend.
  • There are two types of whales: baleenlike the blue whale, and the serrated, like the sperm whale. The former feed by filtering the water, the latter instead devour their prey.
  • They have solid bodies, covered with a layer of fat that insulates their insides from the cold waters of the deep sea, and they are able to hold their breath for 45 minutes and reach depths of almost a kilometer.

Strictly speaking, the four known species of whale are:

  • The Greenland whale (Balaena mysticetus)
  • The southern right whale (Eubalaena australis)
  • The glacial right whale (Eubalaena glacialis)
  • The Pacific right whale (Eubalaena japonica)

Where do whales live?

whale where they live migration
Many whales migrate when reproducing.

Different species of whales choose different habitats, almost always in deep waters of the different oceans. For example, blue whales prefer the North Atlantic, while gray whales the east and west of the northern Pacific Ocean.

Many species are migrantsSo they spend long periods of time in one place, but they go to specific places to reproduce, as happens with the southern right whale that visits the Argentine Atlantic coasts during several months of the year.

What do whales eat?

In general, whales they are carnivores, although their respective diets usually consist of small fish, tiny crustaceans (such as the krill) and zooplankton, which filter from the waters thanks to the set of barbs they have and which measure from 5 to 25 cm in length. Instead, toothed species can feed on squid and other cephalopods deep water.

How do whales reproduce?

Humpback Whale
Whales have only one calf at a time, which measures approximately 5 meters at birth.

Like all mammals, whales reproduce sexually and viviparously, with long gestations of almost a year at the end of which a single calf is born. The latter, at birth, measure about 5 meters and weigh around three thousand kilos, in the most voluminous species, and they feed on mother’s milk during their first years of life.

How long do whales live?

The average lifespan of a whale is around 30 to 40 yearsAlthough it is known that some particularly bulky species can reach 200 years of age, thanks to their particularly slow metabolisms, such as the Greenland whale.