Whale (animal) - Information, reproduction, and characteristics

Whale (animal) - Information, reproduction, and characteristics
Posted on 09-02-2022


We explain what whales are, what their habitat is, how they reproduce and how they feed. Also, how long do they live?


Among the whales are the largest animals in the world.

What are whales?

Whales are a group of marine cetacean mammals, of which four different species are known to date. However, the term "whale" is in common use for any large cetacean, such as sperm whales. Humanity has known these animals since ancient times and was often inspired by them to create mythological sea monsters.

These are large marine life animals, whose species include the largest living animals on the planet (the blue whale, Balaenoptera musculus ).

Like all mammals, whales are warm-blooded, air-breathing animals, capable of spending long periods of time submerged and then coming to the surface to replenish their air reserves and expel the water from their lungs by means of a jet that rises above the surface. airs, and that is one of the typical features of his presence.

Whales are often considered a kind of immense "sea cows", that is, tame animals that roam the deep seas, and that do not represent any danger to humanity, nor to other species beyond the small organisms of which they feed.

Characteristics of the whales


Whales have lungs, so they must come to the surface to breathe.

Broadly speaking, whales are characterized by the following:

  • They are very bulky animals, one of the largest that exist on the planet, whose bodies can exceed, depending on the species, a wingspan of 35 meters and hundreds of tons. There are also smaller species, which can be around 3 meters long and weigh much less.
  • They are marine mammals, that is, warm-blooded and air-breathing animals, for which they have two holes (spiracles) on the top of their heads, through which they can expel accumulated water and carry out the gas exchange. For this last reason, they have a tail arranged vertically, which allows them to quickly rise and fall.
  • There are two types of whales: baleen whales, like the blue whale, and toothed whales, like the sperm whale. The former feed by filtering the water, the latter instead devour their prey.
  • They have solid bodies, covered with a layer of fat that isolates their entrails from the cold waters of the deep sea, and they are capable of holding their breath for 45 minutes and reaching depths of almost a kilometer.

Strictly speaking, the four known species of whale are:

  • The bowhead whale ( Balaena mysticetus)
  • The southern right whale ( Eubalaena australis)
  • The glacial right whale ( Eubalaena glacialis)
  • The Pacific right whale ( Eubalaena japonica)

Where do the whales live?


Many whales migrate when they reproduce.

Different species of whales choose different habitats, often in the deep waters of different oceans. For example, blue whales prefer the North Atlantic, while gray whales prefer the east and west of the North Pacific Ocean.

Many species are migrants, so they spend long periods of time in one place, but go to specific sites to reproduce, as occurs with the southern right whale that visits the Atlantic coast of Argentina during several months of the year.

What do whales eat?

In general, whales are carnivorous, although their respective diets usually consist of small fish, tiny crustaceans (such as krill ), and zooplankton, which they filter from the water thanks to the set of baleen they possess and which measure from 5 to 25 cm. of length. Instead, toothed species may feed on squid and other deep-sea cephalopods.

How do whales reproduce?


Whales have only one calf at a time, which is approximately 5 meters long at birth.

Like all mammals, whales reproduce sexually and viviparously, with long gestations of almost a year at the end of which a single calf is born. The latter, at birth, measure about 5 meters and weigh around three thousand kilos, in the most voluminous species, and feed on breast milk during their first years of life.

How long do whales live?

The average lifespan of a whale is around 30 to 40 years, although it is known that some particularly bulky species can reach 200 years of age, thanks to their particularly slow metabolisms, such as the Greenland whale.

Thank You