On November 27, 1995 Bill Watterson published this cartoon.
Its message is as important today as it was over 20 years ago – maybe more so. Calvin may be known, in part, for being cynical, mischievous, and adventure seeking, but so often he spoke the truth we all need to hear.
World whale day was actually yesterday, the third Sunday of February. But in my opinion, any day is a good day to celebrate whales. Whales are marvelous, mysterious, powerful, and highly intelligent creatures. They are mammals, like humans: they are warm-blooded, breathe air, give birth to live young, and nurse their young with milk.
There are two types of whales, baleen whales and toothed whales. Baleen whales tend to be larger, though they feed by filtering their food through their baleen plates which act like a sieve to catch small marine organisms. Toothed whales have teeth and eat larger prey such as squid, octopus, fish, and other marine species. This type of whale includes dolphins, porpoises, and narwhals!
The largest of all whales is the massive blue whale. It is also the largest creature to ever live on Earth. They can grow to a length of up to 100 feet – that’s the length of three school buses! If you can imagine it, their heart is the size of a car. And, of course, these huge animals give birth to huge babies. These babies are about 23 feet long and weigh as much as an adult hippo. The babies will nurse from their mothers for 6-7 months. They have a long life ahead of them, living an average of 80 years.
So, to celebrate and honor whales of all sizes on World Whale Day, learn more about whales and what we can all do to protect them and the oceans they call home.
With this blog I’ve reached the end of my cover reveal party. Antifreeze, Leaf Costumes, and Other Fabulous Fish Adaptations (Nomad Press, August 2020; illustrated by Katie Mazeika) is the last of the five picture books about animal adaptations coming out in August. Fish-wise, I usually prefer the pretty, tropical ones moving about a coral reef. Yet, like with the other books in this series, I learned so much about fish during my research and gained a new appreciation for them.
You may already be familiar with salmon runs and their migration back upstream to spawn in the same location where they began their own lives. The feat is epic. But while writing this book, I learned of another fish that must climb waterfalls to reach their spawning grounds. Yes, waterfalls. Even more epic. The Nopoli rock-climbing goby uses two suction cups on its body, one under their mouth and one under their belly, to inch up the rock. Mind you, these fish are not very big and they can climb waterfalls more than 300 feet tall. For their body size, it would be like a human climbing Mount Everest three times! A fabulous adaptation indeed.
Cover reveal 4 of 5: Water-Walking, Sidewinding, and Other Remarkable Reptile Adaptations (Nomad Press, August 2020; illustrated by Katie Mazeika). I’ll be honest…I’m not much of a reptile fan. Or at least, I wasn’t. But, in researching these prehistoric creatures, I’ve gained a new respect – they truly are remarkable.
I’ve written before about painted turtles that breathe through their butts in the wintertime and the American alligators that are truly the keepers of the Everglades ecosystem – helping to keep the system stay balanced and functioning. One of my other favorites in this picture book is the chameleon. Not only do chameleons have 360-degree eyesight, they have amazing tongues. Once they spy a tasty treat, they lash out their tongues with remarkable speed. The end of a chameleon’s tongue is a ball of muscle that works like a suction cup, snatching up the prey. These extra-long, elastic, spring-loaded tongues are so quick the poor insect doesn’t even know what happened (if they were a car, they’d be able to go from 0 to 60 in 1/100th of a second). Maybe it’s better that way. Chameleon tongues are so amazing that they are a source of interest in the science of bioinspiration.