Facts about whales

Facts about whales
  1. Age: Although it is not known exactly how old whales can live, it is known that they can live for more than 100 years. In 2007, a harpoon tip – patented in 1879 – was found in the back of a beluga whale. The age of the whale in question was estimated to be 211 years, but it could theoretically be 177 – 245 years old
  2. Friendships: Female humpback whales form friendships with other females and come together every year. This means they remember their friends and are able to find each other among other whales in the vast oceans of the world
  3. Human voices: Beluga whales have an ability to mimic human voices. In one case, a captive beluga whale (named Lugosi) was able to say its own name. In another case, a beluga whale (called NOC) became so adept at mimicking human voices that scientists thought they overheard a conversation between two humans. The same whale also caused a diver in his tank to swim to the surface because he thought someone was calling his name when the whale “spoke”
  4. Mammals: Whales are mammals, which means, among other things, that they need to surface to breathe air (unlike fish, which can breathe underwater via their gills)
  5. The whale orders: Whales are an order divided into 3 suborders: baleen whales (14 species), toothed whales (70 living species) and pilot whales (extinct)
  6. Baleen whales: Instead of teeth, baleen whales have baleen plates, which they use to filter food from the water. Baleen whales also have two blowholes, whereas toothed whales only have one. Examples of baleen whales include: blue whales, bowhead whales, humpback whales, fin whales, northern right whales and gray whales
  7. Toothed whales: Toothed whales have many small pointed teeth in their mouths, which they use to hold their prey. Toothed whales feed primarily on fish, squid and seals. Examples of toothed whales include: sperm whales, dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, killer whales, beluga whales, narwhals and porpoises
  8. Biggest animal: The blue whale is the largest animal that has ever existed on Earth. A blue whale can grow to 33 meters long and weigh up to 200 tons. A blue whale can fit 100 people in its mouth and its heart is the size of a small car. Its blood vessels are so large that a basketball can flow through them
  9. Moby Dick: The book ‘Moby Dick’ is based on a true story. The real whale was called Mocha Dick and attacked an English whaling ship around 1820. The ship’s crew ended up on a desert island where they were driven to cannibalism. Mocha Dick was an albino whale covered in barnacles (small crustaceans that attach to whales) and was typically observed with harpoons and turf in his skin from the whalers’ unsuccessful attacks on him
  10. Adoption: Whales can adopt other animals and even objects. In 2011, researchers observed a sperm whale adopting a dolphin that was born with a deformed spine and had been ostracized by its own pod of dolphins. Similarly, bowhead whales have been observed adopting objects such as wooden planks, skeletons and the like, which they bring with them and treat as their own children
Fact: Whales' closest relatives are the cloven-hoofed animals
Attribution: Micha L. Rieser + Wwelles14 + Lunkwill – Wikipedia.org

Fact: The closest living relatives of whales are the pair-bred ungulates (cloven-hoofed animals) such as deer and hippos


The zombie worm

Fact: Whale bones are eaten by the so-called 'zombie worm'
Attribution: Robert C. Vrijenhoek, Shannon B. Johnson & Greg W. Rouse – Wikipedia.org

If it wasn’t for the little ‘zombie worm’ or ‘snot worm’ as it’s also called, there would be a lot of whale bones on the seabed. The zombie worm’s Latin name is Osedax mucofloris, which literally means “bone-eating snot flower”. The worm eats whale bones by covering them with mucus and establishing a kind of root system in the bones. The worm has no mouth, so its skin produces acid that breaks down the bones. The worm feeds on the protein and collagen from the bones, but has no digestive system or rectum, which makes it even more remarkable