Top Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Whales

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Find out how to tell the age of a blue whale, which whale has the nicest smile and who is the best at deep dives in this top ten countdown!

1) The wax plug found in a blue whale’s ear is made up of layers that can be counted to estimate the animal’s age.

blue whale
Blue whale

2) Whales don’t get the water they need from seawater; instead they get water by metabolizing the fat in their food.

humback whale breaching
Humback whale

3) Whales swim by moving their tails up and down, unlike fish, which swim by moving their tail side to side.

whale tale

4) The blue whale is the largest animal to ever live on Earth; their heart is about the size of a Volkswagen beetle.

Blue whale
Blue whale

5) Sperm whales spend about 7% of their time drifting inactively; they sometimes take these naps while standing up vertically. Check out this video to see some sleeping whales.

sperm whale underwater
Sperm whale

6) Blue whales are one of the loudest animals, producing sounds that other whales can hear 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) away.

Blue Whale Fluke
Blue whale

7) Hippos are the closest living relative to whales.

hippo

8) The beluga whale is the only member of the cetacean order that can make facial expressions.

Beluga Whale
Beluga whale

9) Some whales migrate to ‘rubbing beaches’ which are shallow bays lined with rocks that they rub against, likely to help them shed their skin.

two gray whales
Gray whales

10) Cuvier beaked whales hold the record for the mammal with the longest and deepest dive. Scientists have tracked a Cuvier beak whale diving down 9,816 feet (2,992 meters) and staying under water for 138 minutes.

Photo credit: Flickr user Tim Ellis
Cuvier beaked whales. Photo credit: Flickr user Tim Ellis

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References

1) http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2013/09/16/biography-of-a-blue-whale-told-through-ear-wax/
2) http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-can-sea-mammals-drink/
3) http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/evograms_03
4) http://www.afsc.noaa.gov/nmml/education/cetaceans/blue.php
5) http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-do-whales-and-dolphin/
http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080221/full/news.2008.613.html
6) http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/blue-whale/
7) http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/evograms_03
8) http://us.whales.org/species-guide/beluga-whale

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