The Ultimate How Whales Work Quiz

Staff

Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

Although most whales are huge mammals, they are more amazing than frightening. Whales are among the most intelligent mammals and most whales even appear to enjoy being in the company of human beings. Take our quiz to learn more about this amazing mammal.

If a full-grown blue whale could stand on its tail, how tall would it be?

A full-grown blue whale standing upright would reach the height of a 10-story building, about 100 feet (30 m). An adult blue whale has a heart the size of a small car.

About how much can a full-grown blue whale weigh?

An adult blue whale can weigh 150 tons or more, and has a tongue that 50 men could stand on. That weight is the same as the world’s biggest bulldozer, the Komatsu D575A-3 Super Dozer, which is about the size of a single-story bungalow.

Whales are mammals that walked on the earth:

Scientists and paleontologists believe that whales walked the earth around 50 million years ago. Some theorize that whales were hoofed animals and had feet similar to our modern day cow, while others believe that they had paws and were wolf-like in appearance.

How do whales swim or propel themselves forward in water?

Whales swim forward by flexing their tails up and down, instead of side to side as with most fish. To change direction, they move their flippers, similar to the way an airplane steers.

How does a whale manage to breathe in the water, since it is a mammal?

A whale holds its breath. To breathe in air at the surface, a whale flexes a muscle that opens a blowhole located at the top of its head and then inhales like any other mammal. When the whale relaxes the muscle, the blowhole closes, so it is safe to submerge again.

What breathing strategy did whales have to develop in order to survive so well under water?

Since whales can only breathe at the surface, they have developed conscious breathing. They do not have an automatic breathing process like we do.

Why do whales squirt seawater from their blowholes if their blowholes are closed when they are submerged?

The spout people see is actually caused by exhaled air that is typically warmer than the surrounding air at the water's surface. As it flows out the ejected air cools rapidly and water vapor in their air immediately condenses into a liquid, giving the appearance of spraying water.

What can experienced whale-watchers tell about a whale by observing its waterspout?

Since each species of whale has a uniquely shaped blowhole, they also have their own distinctive spout shape. Experienced whale-watchers can identify a particular species by its spout alone.

How long can a sperm whale remain submerged without surfacing to catch a breath?

The sperm whale's respiratory system is among the most efficient in the world, allowing the huge animal to remain submerged for 80 to 90 minutes between breaths. However, the beaked whale takes the prize: It can swim without taking a breath for as long as two hours.

What do whales do when they dive to conserve air in order to remain submerged longer?

When whales dive, their heart beats slower and selected arteries are constricted. This slows the flow of blood to certain organs without decreasing the whale’s blood pressure. They make each breath last by sending most oxygen to essential organs and restricting flow to organs that can survive with less air.

How do whales avoid a problem with consciously breathing while they are asleep?

Since whales must make a conscious decision to breathe, it is not feasible for them to be unconscious. Marine biologists have determined that whales avoid this problem by letting only one-half of the brain sleep, while the other half maintains essential functions.

How deep do sperm whales typically dive in order to find their favorite food meal of giant squid?

Sperm whales dive to depths of 7,000 feet (2,133.6 m) or more when hunting for giant squid. Their rib cage can collapse, because it is attached by cartilage instead of solid bone, and their lungs can also collapse, which increases and equalizes internal air pressure to match external pressure.

How many species of whale have been identified to date?

There are 75 identified species of whales, although there are claims that four more species have been discovered using DNA analysis, bringing the total to 79. However, marine biologists are concerned that with some hunting still going on, both legally and illegally, some species are in grave danger of extinction.

What is an audio method employed by many whales to find prey and locate obstacles in the water called?

Echolocation is a very simple concept: The whale emits a series of clicks or sounds from its mouth or from organs in its head, and the sound waves travel out in the surrounding water. When the sound waves reach an obstacle or another animal, they bounce off it and travel back to the whale's ears, the time this takes helps whales calculate distance and direction to a target.

What is the baleen that non-toothed whales have developed to allow them to catch and eat krill, plankton and other small fish?

The baleen is a wide plate in a whale's mouth, made up of hundreds of long, fringed blades composed of keratin, the same material as our fingernails. These blades form a sieve that the whale uses to filter small animals such as krill, plankton and small fish from seawater.

What is the maximum amount of time that a male humpback whale’s complex song will last?

The male humpback's complex song, made up of low moans, high-pitched squeals and clicking noises, can last up to 30 minutes. What is amazing is that the whales will repeat the songs verbatim repeatedly and in a given region, all males will sing the same song.

What is the highest decibel (unit of measurement of sound level) reading that a blue whale’s call can reach when communicating with other whales?

Blue whales are the largest known animals on Earth and they are the loudest. Their calls can reach 185 decibels (that is 45 decibels higher than a jet engine) and it can travel for hundreds of miles underwater.

What male whale appears to be a solitary wanderer and travels amazing distances for no obvious reason?

Male sperm whales seem to be solitary wanderers, traveling from ocean to ocean with no particular pattern or reason behind their travels. A single sperm whale might easily swim around the entire Earth in its 70-year lifetime.

How many gallons of its mother’s breast milk does a baby blue whale consume each day?

A baby blue whale drinks 50 gallons (189 L) of milk every day and grows by as much as 10 pounds (4.54 kg) every hour. A newborn calf may measure 25 feet (7.62 m) from head to tail and typically weighs more than a full-grown African elephant.

What is it called when whales launch themselves out of the water, twist in the air and fall back with a gigantic splash?

Whales weighing many tons build up velocity underwater to launch themselves above the ocean's surface, twist in the air and fall back, producing a tremendous splash. This stunt is called breaching. Experts theorize that they do it for mating purposes, to knock off parasites and crustaceans, for communication or just for fun, but no one really knows for sure.

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