GIANTS OF THE OCEAN

Whales are the true giants of the ocean.

They are  a marine animal and a member of the dolphin family.

Whales breathe through blowholes located at the top of the head.  They also have a thick blubber of skin which controls their body temperature.

They produce  click, whistle and pulse sounds which are useful for navigation and communciation while also helping to determine size, location and direction of prey.

Whales frequently travel long distances in migration from cold to warmer waters and can travel as much as 160 kilometres in one day.

There are three giant whales which I know about.

They are the Blue Whale, the Orca and the Sperm White Male.

The Blue Whale is the biggest living creature on earth.  It is longer than two buses and will weigh on average 150 tons.

It is a baleen whale which means it does not have any teeth and it can only eat small fish like krill and plankton.  It eats 4000kg of krill every day.

Baleen whales are larger and slower than toothed whales.

Orcas are not as big as blue whales but they can eat bigger animals because they have teeth.

Their favourite food is fish, seals and sea lions.

They take their name from the word for the Roman God for the underworld, ‘Orcus’ .

Orcas are seen as playful creatures who fit the common profile of a dolphin.

They like jumping out of the sea and hitting the water with their tails.

These black and white sea creatues are the whales we all see in aquatic parks such as Seaworld and in films such as ‘Free Willy’.

In the wild, Orcas are however,  a natural predator to all sea creatures including sharks, blue whales and younger, smaller (but not adult male) sperm whales.

The third type of whale to mention is the Sperm White Whale.

The sperm white male is the largest of the toothed whales and the largest toothed predator.   It also has the largest brain in nature.

Actually, the sperm whale is larger than the orca but not as large as the blue whale.

It developed a fiercesome reputation when a sperm white whale, using its head as a battering ram, supposedly attacked a whalng ship called the Essex in November 1820.

The story of what happened was explained by the few survivors and inspired a fictional story called Moby Dick.

The sperm whale is elusive and a rare sight to see because it spends a lot of time under water, diving as deep as seven thousand feet.

Sperm Whales have been hunted for centuries for both the unique liquid wax contained in the head and the blubber which has been used for commercial purposes to produce cosmetics, soaps and oil for lighting lamps.

There is now a worldwide moratorium on whaling to protect the species from existence but some whaling is still tolerated in Alaska, Siberia, Japan and Northern Canada.

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