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.