Wonderful choice! Whale is the largest and most powerful animal in the world!


What do they look like?

Whales are large sea mammals with smooth skins, flippers, and powerful tails, which help them to speed through the water. Although they look like fish, they are actually mammals that breathe air. They are found in all the world's oceans and spend all their time in the water, only coming to the surface to breathe. As they breathe out, they blow a massive cloud of tiny water droplets high above them. A whale's nose is called a blowhole and is found on top of its head. They come up to the surface to expel and inhale air through the blowhole.

Photo from Encyclopidia of Animals: Mammals by Dr. E. Gould and Dr. G. McKay
Illustrations by Dr. Kirshner

What are their habitats?

Most whales live in coastal waters. More whales are seen around the Antarctic Ocean where they can find plenty of food.

What are their favorite food?

They catch fish and other sea creatures to eat (small crustaceans, mollusks, worms, small fish). Baleen whales eat mostly shrimp-like animals called krill and small fish. Toothed whales catch larger prey including fish, squid and octopus.

Killer whales even eat other large mammals such as seals and sea lions.

How big are they?

The blue whale is the largest animal in the world. It can grow up to 100 feet long (30 meters) and weigh the same as 25 African elephants (30,000 pounds).

What are some interesting facts?

*Many whales are endangered because people have hunted them or they have been killed by pollution in the sea.

*A whale's heart beats only nine times a minute. A human heart beats about 65 times a minute.

*Whales can communicate to each other over long distances. Humpback whales make songs by humming, moaning, grunting, and squeaking. They often leap out of the sea and slap their tails on the water.

*Because of their thick, insulating layer of blubber, gray whales can survive in the freezing waters near Alaska. These powerful, streamlined swimmers migrate twice a year, sometimes traveling more than 4,000 miles each way!

*Like people, whales are covered with bare skin, except for a few places where thick hair usually grows.

Links to Other Web Sites for More Information:
Whale's a Thematic Unit
I'm a Big Baleen Whale
Whale Songs
To learn about other ocean mammals click HERE.