Whales are sea mammals and come from the group called cetaceans, the same group as dolphins and porpoises. Even though their normal habitat is in the sea, their body temperature is the same as humans and they exhibit similar mammalian characteristics such as breathing air, reproducing by birth and nursing their young. The biggest mammal on earth is the blue whale with a length of 100 feet and next is the fin whale with a length of 88 feet.
Fact 1. In 2004-2005, fossilized remains of a pregnant female and male whale was found in Pakistan giving support to the fact that whales were land animals during pre-historic days.
Fact 2. Whales have been immortalized and romanticized in the novel ‘Moby Dick’, considered a great American literature. Authored by Herman Melville in 1851, the story revolves around the whaling industry and a white sperm whale called Moby Dick
Fact 3. Whales have cone-shaped teeth, which is not used for chewing but for catching prey.
Fact 4. Similar to dolphins, whales use one-half of their brains to keep awake underwater and to breathe whereas the other half goes into rest mode or sleep. This is an evolutionary adaptation to living in the sea.
Fact 5. The life span of a whale can stretch up to 200 years old.
Fact 6. Archaeological and genetic DNA testing shows whales could have evolved from artiodactyls mammals like sheep and antelope. Further tests have narrowed it down to the hippopotamus as its closest relative.
Fact 7. Whales travel in social units called pods and communicate by clicks and echolocation. It has been found that whales streamline their conversations (clicking) by ensuring that echoes do not cross lines by changing the intervals between clicks.
Fact 8. Whales are socially inclined towards a matriarchal system as their nucleus social unit consists of two or three generation of females (grandmothers, mothers and daughters).
Fact 9. Whales communicate by clicks known as ‘codas’ which are basically a pattern of series of five evenly spaced clicks. Particular accents within families are common. There are also regional dialects between whales of a particular region such as between the Caribbean and Pacific regions.
Fact 10. Communication between whales and all sea creatures can be hampered by the increasing noise pollution. Increase in maritime trade, oil exploration and environmental pollution in the seas can affect communications between animals such as the whales who depend on echoes for catching of their prey.