Archives for category: Species Profile


Species Profile: The Dwarf Sperm Whale

The Dwarf Sperm Whale is one of only two cetacean species that can eject “ink” to scare off would-be predators. 

A Dwarf Sperm Whale Breaching

A Dwarf Sperm Whale Breaching (Photo: Robert Pitman/NOAA)

The Dwarf Sperm Whale is one of only three surviving species in the sperm whale family. These creatures are very rarely sighted out at sea, so the much that’s known about them is gathered from studying stranded carcasses.

This species holds the position of the smallest in size of true whales. At the most they will grow up to 2.7 m (8.9 ft) in length. Hence, they are even smaller than some dolphin species.

They prefer clam and quiet seas where they spend their days making slow movements while lying motionless at

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Species Profile: The Common Minke Whale

The Common Minke Whale is the smallest in its suborder and is known for “human watching.”

Common minke whale

The Common Minke Whale is one of two species of minke whales both within the suborder of baleen whales.

This whale is the second smallest in size among the baleen whales. The pygmy right whale is the only one that’s smaller. It has a blackish-gray and sometimes purple color with white underbelly. A white band on each flipper distinguishes the common minke whales from others of its kind.

The common minke whale was initially ignored by commercial whalers during the whaling era because of its

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Species Profile: The Fin Whale

Despite being one of the largest whales alive today, the Fin Whale is also one of the fastest cetaceans in the Earth’s waters.

Fin Whale

Fin Whale In The Kenai Fjords Near Resurrection Bay, Alaska (Photo: Lori Mazzuca/WikiMedia Commons, cc by-s.a. 2.5)

The Fin Whale or finback whale is a baleen whale and the second largest creature on Earth; second only to the Blue Whale.

This remarkable creature is unique in a number of ways. For one thing they produce the lowest frequency vocalization of any whale. They produce sounds as loud as 188 decibels but the frequency is so low that humans can’t hear it.

In addition, though so large, this whale is sleek and built for speed.  American naturalist Roy Chapman Andrews

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Species Profile: The Sei Whale

The Sei Whale is the fourth largest baleen whale and an endangered species.

Sei whale with a calf

Sei Whale Mother With Her Calf (Photo: NOAA)

The Sei Whale is another baleen whale and it’s the fourth largest of them after the Blue Whale, the Fin Whale, and the Humpback Whale.

Although it prefers deeper offshore waters, it’s often sighted in most oceans and adjoining seas.

Typically, its body is colored dark steel gray with irregular light grayish to white markings towards the front of the lower body. The Sei whale’s skin is commonly marked with distinct crater-shaped scars caused by wounds

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Species Profile: The Gray Whale

The Gray Whale resisted capture so much that whalers named it “Devilfish.”

A Gray Whale

A Gray Whale In Captivity (Photo: Marine Mammal Commission/Wikimedia. Public Domain)

The Gray Whale is a medium-sized baleen whale and the only surviving member of its genus and family. This species is a migratory animal that travels annually between its feeding and breeding grounds.

These whales have a hump and a ridge of sharp bumps running down their backs rather than a dorsal fin. They also prefer to stay close to shore – feeding in shallow waters.

The common name, Gray Whale, comes from the contrasting gray patches and white mottling on its dark colored skin. The white patches are the result of barnacles and lice that have attached themselves to the whales’ skins. In

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Species Profile: The Bowhead Whale

The Bowhead Whale is one of the largest whales on Earth and it has the largest mouth of any creature on the Planet. 

A Bowhead Whale Spy-Hopping

A Bowhead Whale Spy-Hopping In The Ulbansky Bay, Northwestern Okhotsk Sea (Author: Olga Shpak/Wikimedia Commons cc by-sa 3.0)

The Bowhead Whale is one of the biggest whales on earth and it’s a species belonging in the Balaenidae family. They live exclusively in the waters of the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of the Earth.

It has a dark, stocky body, with a white patch under its lower jaw and it lacks a dorsal fin. Their heads are large, triangular, and so strong that they use them to break through thick sheets of ice in order to breath. Some Inuit hunters have even reported seeing bowhead whales breaking through up to 60 cm (24 in) of solid ice.

This whale gets its common name from its strongly bowed lower jaw and narrow upper jaw. These are filter feeders: instead of teeth, they have baleen plates for filtering prey after gulping large amounts of water. Interestingly, the bowhead whale has the largest baleen plates of any whale: about 3 m (9.8 ft).

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Species Profile: The North Atlantic Right Whale

The North Atlantic Right Whale is the most endangered species among whales today. 

North Atlantic Right Whale and a calf

North Atlantic Right Whale With A Calf (Photo: NMFS NOAA)

The North Atlantic Right Whale is one of three baleen right whale species in the Eubalaena genus. They are among the biggest whales on earth.

Their docile and easy to hunt nature made them a target for ruthless hunting in past decades.  Today, they are easily the most endangered whales in the world.

These whales are easy to identify with the callosities on their heads (caused by whale lice infestation), and a broad back lacking any dorsal fin. Also, their mouths arcs deeply from just below the eye. The North Atlantic right whale has a very dark gray/black body and some individuals have white patches on the belly.

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Species Profile: The Cuvier’s Beaked Whale

The Cuvier’s Beaked Whale is a truly cosmopolitan mammal known for frequent stranding.

Cuvier's Beaked Whale

Cuvier’s Beaked Whale. (Courtesy: R.W. Baird/Cascadia Research Collective)

The Cuvier’s Beaked Whale is one of the smaller whale species and it’s widely distributed in most oceans and seas worldwide.

Though it’s so widely distributed, it prefers deep waters. As a result, not much is known about it except what researchers can gather by studying stranded individuals. Strangely, this species tends to strand more often than any of the other species of beaked whales.

Like other beaked whales, it has a cigar-shaped body and is often mistaken for other mesoplodont whales (a genus of toothed whales) at sea.

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Species Profile: The Beluga Whale

The Beluga Whale is one intriguing creature! Though it’s one of the smallest whales, it stands out everywhere.

Closeup Of A Beluga Whale

Closeup Of A Beluga Whale Showing The Round “Melon” On Its Forehead. (Courtesy: premier.gov.ru cc by 4.0)

 

From the very first glance, the Beluga Whale stands out with its stark white color and friendly appearance.

This species is an Arctic and Sub-Arctic cetacean. Often called the white whale, the beluga shares the same family with the narwhal.

Its adaptation to life in the frigid waters of the Arctic means it has evolved several anatomical and physiological characteristics different from other cetaceans. For instance, its body has a high proportion of blubber, it lacks a dorsal fin, and has a stark all-white body color.

Also, its sharp sense of hearing and echolocation enables it move about under ice yet it can quickly find blowholes under the ice covering so it can breathe.

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