Fascinating Types of Whales

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Updated on: Educator Review By: Michelle Connolly

Whales are beautiful aquatic creatures. They are the hugest animals on Earth. Different types of whales live in all oceans. They are mammals that belong to Cetacea. The word whale can refer to any cetacean, including porpoises and dolphins, but generally, it refers to those more than 10 feet long.

They share in maintaining the ocean’s ecosystem by keeping the balance as natural predators. Furthermore, whales are mammals. They breathe air and produce milk to feed their young. Besides, Whales are warm-blooded creatures that take care of their young. They are like other mammals as they must regulate their body temperature.

Furthermore, they have a streamlined form, hairless skin, and an insulating layer of fat. Whales also have large heads, with a large mouth and no external neck. Additionally, Whales have small eyes to bear pressure, and most species have good vision. Besides, their sense of hearing is also excellent.

Most whales must float on the surface of the water every three to twenty minutes to breathe, but some whales, such as the sperm whale, can remain underwater for more than an hour. The spouting process occurs when the whale floats and clears water from its blowhole along with any humidity trapped in its air passages. Many whales have highly complicated brains heavier than the brains of humans, and whales are known to be extremely intelligent.

In addition, females of most species give birth to a single embryo every two to three years. The newborn is pushed to the surface by the mother or by another adult, and it can swim immediately and is nursed for six to twelve months by the mother. Many large whales are known to live one hundred years or more in the wild. There are around forty types of whales. Hence, we will discuss some of them.

Different Types of Whales

  1. Blue Whale

The first type of Whale is the Blue whale. The Blue whale is the biggest mammal in the world. These whales even weigh more than dinosaurs. Blue whales can breathe air, but they are very comfortable in the ocean waters where floating helps in backing their enormous size. Moreover, this type is found in all the world’s oceans and usually swims in small groups or alone.

Regarding its size, a Blue whale may reach a length of ninety-eight feet and weigh up to one hundred ninety-nine tons. Their tongues alone may weigh as much as an elephant. Thus, it is the largest have ever existed. Generally, the Blue whales migrate between their summer feeding areas near the poles and their winter breeding grounds near the tropics.

Generally, the Blue whales migrate between their summer feeding areas near the poles and their winter breeding grounds near the tropics. Furthermore, the Blue whale’s skin can be of different shades of greyish-blue and sometimes lighter underneath.

The Blue whale usually lives in the North Atlantic and North Pacific, the Southern ocean, the Indian ocean, and the South Pacific. Generally, the Blue whales migrate between their summer feeding areas near the poles and their winter breeding grounds near the tropics. Moreover, Blue whales are among Earth’s longest-lived animals as their life cycle may reach from eighty to ninety years.

Scientists have discovered the layers of a dead whale’s wax earplugs through the counting process. Thus, they detected that the oldest blue whale aged one hundred and ten years. Blue whales communicate with each other through their powerful sounds as they emit a series of pulses, groans, and moans. Thus, they are the loudest animals on Earth.

Blue whales usually feed on krill-tiny shrimp, but fish and tiny crustaceans may be part of the Blue Whales’ diet. Moreover, females of this kind give birth to only one embryo every two or three years. After a year inside the mother’s womb, a baby blue whale can weigh three tons and stretch to twenty-five feet.

Besides, most reproductive activities, such as giving birth and mating, happen during the winter. Furthermore, many behaviours threaten the Blue whales, such as ship strikes that can kill or hit them the Blue whales. Overfishing also represents a danger to Blue whales. Whalers hunt them for their fat and oil. They are hunted severely. They are about to be extinct.

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The tail of a Sperm Whale diving
  1. Orca Whale

The second type of whale is the Orca whale. It is also named the Killer whale, even though it never attacks humans. It is a deadly and beautiful predator that hides in every ocean. Orcas are among the most widely distributed mammals on the planet as they occupy all waters. They are very social, diverse, and violent aquatic predators. 

Orca whales hunt everything from fish to seals, sea lions, penguins, squid, sea turtles, sharks, and even other kinds of whales. Moreover, the diet system of these whales varies as some eat plenty of fish and squid while others feed on seals and penguins, depending on the season. Wherever they are in any of the world’s oceans, the Killer whale may eat about two hundred twenty-seven kilograms of food per day.

Orcas work together in groups to hunt Fish. They also slap their tails onto the water’s surface, causing a wave to wash prey off ice fibres. They have a unique shape as their backs are black, and their stomachs are white. This shape helps them because they can sneak up and attack their prey as their black backs blend with the water.

Besides, their white stomach blends with the light streaming down into the sea from the surface. Thus, it is not easy to see them. Additionally, they are the hugest members of the dolphin family, and the males are larger than the females in their size. Their weight may reach from one and a half to six tons, regarding their length may amount to twenty-three to thirty-two feet.

The most enormous recorded male Killer whale was thirty-two feet in length and twenty-two thousand pounds in weight, and the largest recorded female was twenty-eight feet in length and sixteen thousand pounds. Furthermore, their life span reaches thirty to fifty years in the wild while it amounts to sixty to seventy years in captivity.

They live in every ocean around the world. Moreover, they can adapt to various climates, from the warm waters near the equator to the cold waters of the North and South Pole. Besides, they can travel long distances. In addition, they communicate w through a wide variety of sounds, and each flock has unique noises that its members will recognize even at a distance.

Whale Facts for Kids
Whale Facts for Kids
  1. Sperm Whale

The third type of whale is the Sperm whale. Furthermore, the sperm whale is the hugest whale of the toothed whales and has one of the most widespread global distributions of aquatic mammal species. They also have the hugest brain of any creature on Earth. 

This type is known as Sperm whale due to the waxy substance. This substance is called spermaceti. The scientists found it in the whales’ heads. The spermaceti is an oil bag that helps the whales focus on sounds. It also regulates their floating to dive deep and rise again. Besides, the whalers extract this substance to use in oil lamps and candles.

Sperm whales are known to dive as deep as three thousand two twenty-eight feet to search for squid to eat. They feed on squid, sharks, skates, and fish that live in deep ocean waters because they spend most of their time in deep waters.

These enormous mammals can hold their breath for up to ninety minutes on such dives. They usually move in groups called pods. These pods consist of fifteen or twenty Whale. Pods include females and their young, while males may roam solo or move from one group to another. 

Females and their young remain in tropical or subtropical waters the whole year, while males migrate to higher ranges alone or in groups and return to the equator to breed. The males of this type are more oversized than the females as males’ weight may be up to forty-five tons while females weigh up to only fifteen tons.

Besides, males’ length reaches fifty-two feet while females’ length reaches forty feet. The life expectancy may reach sixty years. Moreover, Sperm whales were hunted for the commercial whaling industry from 1800 to 1987. Although the Whalers hunt a large population, they are still fairly numerous.

These Whales emit a series of vocal sounds called Clangs. They use these sounds to communicate with each other. These sounds can travel underwater until they reach objects. Then, return to their senders. These sounds reveal the size, location, and shape of prey.

Sperm Whales live in Alaska, New England, Mid-Atlantic, Pacific Islands, Southeast, and West Coast. Furthermore, many risks represent a threat to the Sperm whales, such as ship strikes, Oil spills and contaminants, and climate change. 

Sperm whales are dark grey, though some whales have white spots on the stomach. Their heads are giant, weighing about one-third of their total body length. Besides, the skin just behind the head is usually wrinkled. In addition, their lower jaw is narrow, they have between 20 and 26 large teeth on each side of the lower jaw.

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Sperm whale swimming underwater
  1. Grey Whale

The fourth type of whale we will discuss is the Grey whale. The Grey whale is also known as the Grey Back whale, Pacific Grey Whale, Korean Grey Whale, and California Grey whale. Moreover, The Grey whale is one of the whale kingdom’s great migrators as it travels in Pods.

Some of these whales can travel for twelve thousand four hundred thirty miles per trip from their summer home in Alaskan waters to the warmer waters off the Mexican coast, whereas the other Grey whales live in the seas near Korea. Grey whales float to breathe. Thus, migrating groups are usually recognized on North America’s west coast.

Grey whales are known to migrate more than six thousand miles each way which is considered the longest known migration route of any mammal. Besides, they can dive up to one hundred twenty meters. Like all whales, Grey whales float to breathe. Thus, migrating groups are usually recognized on North America’s west coast.

During the 20th century, Grey whales were a target for excessive hunting, which pushed them into danger of extinction. Recently, international law protects the Grey whales, and their population has grown. Furthermore, they are grey with white spots on their dark skin and usually covered with parasites and other organisms that make their noses and backs look like crusty ocean rock.

In addition, they have small heads with small eyes located just above the corners of the mouth. Grey whales were once called devil fish due to their violent fighting behaviour when they got hunted. Moreover, the adult females of this type are slightly larger than the adult males. Whereas females may weigh almost thirty-two thousand kilograms with a length of fourteen feet, males may weigh twenty-eight kilograms with an altitude of thirteen feet.

The maximum recorded weight for a Grey whale is around thirty-five thousand kilograms. Moreover, they can live between fifty-five to seventy years. During the summer, Grey whales are found mainly in shallow coastal waters in the North Pacific Ocean, Southeast Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and northern California. During the winter season, they move to the coast of Baja, California, and Mexico.

Habitat degradation produced by offshore oil and gas development badly affects the Grey whales. Besides, climate change is considered one of the main threats that face the regions where many Grey whales live and feed. The shift in water temperature and currents also negatively influences the Grey whales because they affect the timing of environmental cues important for navigation and migration.

Additionally, the ocean noise negatively affects the Grey whales as it reduces their ability to communicate with each other, increases their stress levels, interrupts their normal behaviour, and displaces them from their habitats.

  1. Fin Whale: 

The fifth type of whale is the Fin whale. This type of whale is also named Finback whale, Herring whale, and Razorback whale. The Fin whale is the second-biggest whale species on Earth, only to the Blue whale. Besides, Fin whales are the fastest of all great whales as they can swim up to twenty-three miles per hour.

Fin whale live throughout the world’s oceans. Like all large whales, Fin whales were hunted by commercial whalers as they wanted to exploit whales in the commercial industry. This act largely lowered their populations. At first, Fin Whales were fast swimmers and lived in open ocean habitats so that whalers could not catch them easily.

But, as whaling methods developed with steam-powered ships, and explosive harpoons, thus, whalers turned to Fin whales. Therefore, this industry killed a massive numeral of Fin whales during the mid-nineties. Furthermore, Fin whales have soapy, streamlined bodies with V-shaped heads and a hooked dorsal fin.

Besides, they have remarkable colouration. Fin whales are black or dark brownish-grey on the back and white on the underside. Furthermore, Fin whales are fast swimmers. Likewise, they usually live with social groups of two to seven individuals. However, during the summer, fin whales feed on krill, small fish, and squid. During the winter, they fast while they migrate to warmer waters.

However, a Fin whale may eat up to two tons of food daily. The Fin whales are on the list of the giant creatures that have ever lived on earth as they reach sizes of at least eighty-five feet and weigh eighty tons. Additionally, Fin whales have long lives as their maximum life span amounts to ninety years.

The females of this type can give birth to a single calf in tropical and subtropical areas during midwinter. A newborn calf is about eighteen feet long and weighs four thousand to six thousand pounds.

Fin whales live in deep, offshore waters of all major oceans, especially in cold temperatures. On the other hand, they are less common in the tropics and hot temperatures. However, three sup-types of Fin whales live in the North Atlantic and North Pacific, the Southern Ocean, and the mid-latitude Southern Ocean. Finally, many factors put Fin whales in danger, such as ocean noise, being stuck in fishing gear, and climate change.

  1. Bowhead Whale

The sixth type of whale that we have is the Bowhead whale. Moreover, other common names of this type are the Greenland Right whale or Arctic whale. Besides, American whalers called them the steeple-top, polar whale, and Russian whale.

Bowhead whales have a dark body with a unique white chin. They do not have a dorsal fin. They also have large heads that reach sixteen and a half feet long, about a third of a Bow Head’s body length. Thus, the scientists called them by this name due to their powerful heads that split sea ice with their enormous heads.

Bowhead whales have many scars on their skin from breaking the ice and killer whale attempts. These marks help scientists in identifying individual whales. Additionally, they have thicker blubber between all the Bowheads. Although Bowhead whales often swim and move alone, they sometimes feed in groups of up to fourteen individual whales.

Bowhead whale feed on marine invertebrates, such as shrimp and krill. Bowhead whales filter their food by straining large amounts of ocean water through their teeth which look like a comb. Hence, they have the most significant mouth of any animal, representing one-third of the length of their bodies. 

In addition, Scientists reported that a Bowhead whale needs to eat over two hundred thousand pounds of marine invertebrates in a year. Regarding the size of Bowheads, they have an average length of forty-nine to fifty-nine feet, and their weight amounts to sixty-five feet and may up to 100 tons.

Therefore, they are considered one of the largest whale species on the planet. Although they have massive sizes, they can leap impressive heights as they can breach entirely out of the water. Besides, they are considered the longest-living mammals as they could live to be two hundred years old.

The sounds are extremely vital for them as they rely on their sense of hearing to detect, recognize and localize important sounds for navigation, predator avoidance, and feeding. Finally, we can find Bowhead whales in Arctic waters as they spend the entire year there.

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  1. Humpback Whale:

The seventh type of whale that we are going to discuss is the Humpback whale. They live in all oceans on Earth. Moreover, they have a Latin name that means big wing of New England. Besides, it refers to their huge fins, which can grow up to sixteen feet long, and their appearance off the coast of New England, where European whalers first hunted them.

Although their bodies are black, some individuals have white spots on their fins and the underside of their tails. They also have tail pigmentation patterns and prominent scars. These marks are sufficient to be used as fingerprints to distinguish between individuals.

Humpback whales are known for their unique sounds, which can travel long distances through the world’s oceans. These moans, howls, cries, and other noises are complex and usually continue for hours to finish. The Humpback whales use these sounds to communicate with their mates.

Additionally, Humpback calves whisper to their mothers. These whales live near coastal lines. Thus they are the favourite of whale-watchers as they can be found near shore and usually perform activities close to the surface. They feed on tiny shrimp, such as krill, and small fish. However, they use many techniques to grab their prey, such as bubbles, sounds, the seafloor, and the fins.

They use a technique called group-coordinated bubble net feeding. This technique means that they use air bubbles to attack the prey. During the summer, Humpback whales migrate annually from feeding grounds near the poles to warmer winter breeding waters closer to the Equator.

The females of this type give birth to a single calf every two or three years. Mothers and their young swim close together, usually touching each other. They do this as a way of protection. Although females take care of their calves for almost a year, it takes a more extended period for a Humpback whale to reach full adulthood.

Besides, calves stop growing at the age of ten years. Additionally, Humpback whales are fast swimmers as they use their enormous tail fins to themselves through the water and even totally out of the water. They also can leap, reaching massive heights.

They do such behaviour to clean their skin and to have fun. Humpback whales are massive as they often range from thirty-nine to fifty-two feet in length and weigh about thirty-six tons. In addition, their life span may reach ninety years. Finally, they live in Western North Pacific and North Atlantic.

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Underwater view of humpback whales, Revillagigedo Islands, Colima, Mexico
  1. Beluga Whale

The Beluga whale is the eighth type of whale that we will discuss together. It is also called the sea canaries and White whale. Unlike the other whales, it is considered the smallest species of whales. Moreover, their exceptional colour and prominent foreheads are enough to identify individuals of this type. Their foreheads are called melons which can change their shape.

They also have flexible necks that enable them to nod and turn their heads in all directions. The calves are born grey or even brown. Then they turned white at the age of five years. They are usually friendly animals that live in small groups called pods, ranging from a few individuals to hundreds of individuals.

They also use vocal sounds as they communicate together through a language of clicks, whistles, and clangs. Besides, they can copy and perform a variety of other sounds. Beluga whales feed on crustaceans like shrimps, worms, and fish. Moreover, Beluga whales can dive for up to twenty-five minutes. They even reach depths of eight hundred meters, and they can swim backwards.  

Besides, they do not have dorsal fins like the other whales but they have a thick layer of blubber that makes them adapt to the icy waters. Additionally, many Beluga whales migrate because the sea ice changes in the Arctic. During the fall, they move to the south as the ice forms and then return to feed again in the spring as the ice breaks up. 

Beluga Whales can also live near river mouths. Moreover, they are relatively small as their length ranges from thirteen to twenty feet, and their weight amounts to one and a half tons. Thus, they may be smaller than a bus. Besides, their average life span ranges from thirty to thirty-five years in the wild.

Beluga whales are at the top of the food chain as they have a vital role in maintaining marine life. Finally, there are dangers that Beluga whales may face, such as climate change, hunting, oil and gas development, and industrial and urban pollution.

  1. North Atlantic Right Whale

The North Atlantic Right whale is the ninth type of whale. They also have other names, such as Tube whale, Biscayan Right whale, Biscay whale, and Black Right whale are giant and slow marine creatures. Although North Atlantic Right whales are huge, they are known to leap above the water and slap their flippers and tails against the water. 

The North Atlantic Right whales have black bodies with no dorsal fins. They also have spouts that look like a “V.” Their tails are broad, powerfully sharp, and all black with a smooth trailing edge. Their flippers are relatively short and wide. Besides, they have zigzag white patches of rough skin on their head.

These patches are called callosities, which appear white because of whale lice that cover their black skin. Moreover, each whale of this type has a remarkable pattern of callosities that scientists use to identify individual Whales. This way is necessary for tracking population size and health.

Although Right whales were once a target for the whalers, they are among the most endangered whales on Earth. Furthermore, there are about three hundred sixty-six individuals in existence, but there are no signs of their recovery. They live along the Atlantic coast of North America, where they face the threat of entanglement in fishing gear and ship crashes.

Some scientists expect that these whales are extinct in the eastern North Atlantic and now survive only along the east coast of the United States and Canada. Right whales feed by opening their mouths while swimming slowly through large areas of copepods and other zooplankton. Then, they filter out these tiny organisms from the water.

Additionally, Right whales emit low-frequency moans, groans, and pulses. Right whales use these sounds to communicate with individuals, avoid threats, send signals of aggression, or use them for other social reasons. Moreover, they migrate seasonally and may travel alone or in small groups that include three to seven individuals.

In the spring, summer, and fall, many of these whales can live in waters off New England and Canadian waters, where they can feed and mate. Some whales travel more than one thousand miles from these feeding grounds to the shallow coastal waters each autumn. Furthermore, these whales may be up to forty-five to fifty-five feet in altitude and reach seventy tons in weight.

In addition, they can live up to seventy years. 

There are many ways to determine the age of a Right whale, such as the ear wax that scientists use to estimate the age of right whales after their death. Another way to determine lifespan is to look at groups of closely related species because there is proof that some species closely connected to right whales may live more than one hundred years.

However, female North Atlantic right whales are now only living to around forty-five years while males only live around sixty-five years because of human interactions and not because of old age.

  1. Common Mink Whale

The tenth and last type that we will discuss is the Common Minke whale. They are also called Northern Minke Whale. People name this type after a Norwegian seaman named Meincke, who was said to have mistaken a Minke whale for a much enormous blue whale.

Although the whalers ignored them due to their small size and low oil yield, they began to be hunted by many countries in the early 20th century. Nowadays, hunters catch more considerable numbers of Common Mink whales due to the reduction of other whales.

Common Minke whales are now one of the most vital targets of the whaling industry because of their meat. Despite their large size, they are considered the smallish individuals in the “Great Whale” family. They are the most common of the Great whale species. Besides, they can live in all world’s oceans. 

Some factors indicate their habitats, such as age and maturity. Older mature males tend to migrate to polar waters, where they will gather in groups of two or three individuals. Whereas adult females migrate to colder waters, they swim near coastlines. Besides, young Minke whales live in warmer, more central waters.

Common Minke whales have dark grey backs and clean white stomachs. Besides, the jaw is dark grey on both sides. They are strange creatures as they usually approach ships which is not usual for whales of their family. They are fast swimmers.

Common Minke whales also can leap totally out of the water like dolphins. They also can hold breaths for up to twenty-five minutes during long dives. Additionally, they feed on krill and some small fish. Besides, their diet system includes crustaceans and cephalopods. It differs according to the region, season, and year.

Common Minke whales are not at risk of extinction as there are more than half a million Minke whales around the oceans. Regarding the size, the Minke whale grows to an average length of twenty-two to twenty-four feet long and weighs as much as eleven tons.

Besides, their life span may be from forty-five to fifty years. Furthermore, they can create sounds at over one hundred and fifty decibels. Hence, whales hear these sounds from many miles away. Whales use these sounds to communicate and to warn each other about dangers in the area.

If you enjoyed learning about this facinating animal why not check out more fantastic facts about other animals: Koalas, Land Animals, Sharks, Raccoons, Moon and Sun Bears, Rats, Sheep, Chickens, Cats, Pandas or Monkeys.

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