As one of the most complicated species on earth, we human beings possess many interesting features and there are lots of fun facts about us. But when it comes to whales, they rival even us in their complexities, abilities, and even sensitivities when it comes to looking at creatures in the natural world. Like us they are mammals. But unlike us, they prefer a marine habitat to dwelling on land. Just the term whale can indicate a variety of species just like the term human can indicate a variety of races. Want more? There are sperm whales, killer whales, orca whales, and beluga whales, each with their own unique characteristics and even personalities!
The blue whale is the largest known animal alive today. It is in fact, the largest known creature to have ever existed! Over the past whales have been subject to the wants and desires of humans, being hunted for meat and used as a source of raw materials. However, today in the 20th century, hunting whales is outlawed in all but a few countries due to the damage that hunting them did to their overall population. Currently, populations of whales exist in today’s oceans in the millions with an estimated growth rate of 3 to 13 since they have been protected as a species. Perhaps one of the most interesting features of a whale is its blowhole. While whales live underwater, they are still mammals like us and need to breathe. They do this by rising to the surface and taking in air using the blowhole located on the top of their body slightly behind their head. Sperm whales can hold their breath for nearly an hour! When it appears that they are spouting water they are actually releasing air from their lungs to essentially take another breath.
Whales are constantly swimming, but they do need to sleep. But since they run the risk of drowning, they do not rest for long periods and it is speculated that in fact, only one hemisphere at a time rests, meaning that they are never fully unconscious or asleep at any time. The lifespan of whales is not well documented and tends to vary by species though it has been reported that one male of a particular species lived to reach 211 years old! Whales are certainly one of the most majestic creatures alive today and while we may consider ourselves to be smarter than them, remember that Sperm whales have the largest brains on the planet, weighing in at 20 pounds!