From Fin Whales to Blue Whales: The Whale Species Quiz


By: Staff

5 Min Quiz

Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

There’s a lot to ooh and ahh over in the vast oceans and seas of the world, but possibly the most majestic of all animals is the whale. Whales belong to the order “Cetacea,” and along with other members of this group like dolphins and porpoises, they are mammals who are totally accustomed to aquatic environments. Unlike many other sea creatures, however, whales need air to survive and have to surface regularly, which is why they don’t sleep for very long.

Unfortunately, not everyone has historically respected the critical part that whales play in the ecosystem, so they’ve been hunted and otherwise affected to near extinction. They’re currently listed as endangered, with some species completely wiped out already. In fact, one of the most threatened right now is the North American right whale, of which there are only about 300 left in the world. Aside from the fact that the world would be a less incredible place without whales, their status at the top of the food chain means that there are very real dangers to the rest of the marine environment, should they be totally eradicated. Even though protective measures have been taken for decades now in an effort to reverse the effects of whaling, six of the 13 “great” whale species are listed as endangered.

Although there are plenty of differences between the various species of whale, each one is impressive in its own right. Can you tell one type of whale from another? Take our quiz to see how much you know about whale species and how these creatures differ.

How many different whale species are out there?

At least 70 different species make up the order Cetacea, which includes dolphins and whales.


True or false: All whale species are endangered.

While some whale species are endangered — there are just a few hundred baiji and vaquita whales, for instance — others, like the killer whale, are not endangered or threatened.


What are the two main types of whales?

Whales fall into one of two groups: the odontocetes, or toothed whales, and the baleen, or nontoothed species.


What is the largest of the toothed whales?

The sperm whale reigns supreme as the largest of the odontocetes.


What part of the sperm whale is unusually large?

The sperm whale is known for its giant head, which generally represents about one-third of the creature's entire body.


True or false: Sperm whales have the largest brain of any animal.

The sperm whale may have a massive brain, but when you compare it to the size of the animal's head and body, the brain is roughly proportional compared to that of other animals.


Which whales are called the canaries of the sea?

Thanks to its whistles, squeals and clicks, the beluga whale is often called the canary of the sea.


Where does the gray whale prefer to dine?

The massive gray whale, which can grow as long as 50 feet (15 meters), prefers to dine on krill and other surface creatures on the seabed.


Which of these body parts is unique to the beluga whale?

Unlike other whales, the beluga whale has a nonfused neck, which allows the creature to turn its head from side to side and nod.


What color are beluga whales?

The beluga whale gets its name from the Russian word "<i>bielo</i>," which means white.


True or false: The blue whale is the largest animal to ever live.

Weighing as much as 24 elephants, the blue whale is the largest animal to ever inhabit Earth.


What do blue whales prefer to eat?

Despite its massive size, the blue whale is a baleen and prefers to eat krill and plankton.


Roughly how many blue whales are alive today?

Prior to the whaling industry of the early 20th century, blue whales numbered over 200,000. Today, only an estimated 5,000 remain.


What feature is the humpback whale known for?

The humpback has a large pectoral fin, which can measure up to 15 feet (5 meters) and allows the creature to swim in all directions, even backward.


Is the humpback whale a baleen or odontocetes?

The humpback is toothless, which makes it a baleen.


True or false: Killer whales migrate farther on average than any other mammal.

The honor of farthest average migration goes to the humpback, which can travel over 5,000 miles (8,000 kilometers) in search of warmer climates as the seasons change.


Which of these is the largest member of the dolphin family?

The killer whale, or <i>Orcinus orca</i>, is not only the largest member of the dolphin family, but also exhibits the same social behavior that dolphins are famous for.


What color is the killer whale?

Killer whales are black with a white belly — think Shamu.


What type of whale is known for its white chin?

The bowhead whale has a dark body with a distinct white chin and also notably lacks a dorsal fin.


Where do bowhead whales prefer to live?

The bowhead makes its home in the Arctic Ocean, relying on its blubber, which can be over 18 inches (46 centimeters) thick, to stay warm.


What percentage of the length of the bowhead whale is made up of its skull?

Between 30 and 40 percent of the bowhead whale's length comes from its thick skull, which the creature uses to break through ice.


What is the second largest whale species?

The fin whale is the second largest whale species after the blue whale. These two species are capable of interbreeding to create hybrid animals that share traits of both species.


How long can the fin whale get?

Fin whales can grow up to 85 feet in length and tend to be larger in the Southern Hemisphere than they are in the Northern.


How many different species of baleen whale are there?

There are approximately 13 species of baleen whale, including the blue whale, fin whale and the sei.


How many species of toothed whales are known to exist?

There are roughly 70 species of toothed whales, including the sperm whale, the beluga and the pilot whale.


How many species of beaked whales can be found?

There are around 22 species of beaked whale with dolphinlike snouts, including a new species discovered in 2014.


What is the smallest species of baleen whale?

Even the smallest baleen whale, the minke, can grow as long as 35 feet (11 meters) and weigh as much as 20,000 pounds (9,000 kilograms).


True or false: A narwhal is a type of whale.

Narwhals, a whale species known as the unicorn of the sea, is known for its long tusk, which can grow as long as 10 feet (3 meters).


Where do narwhals typically live?

Unlike many other whale species, narwhals don't migrate. Instead, they make their homes in the arctic waters of Canada, Greenland and Russia.


True or false: The narwhal actually has feeling in its tusk.

That tusklike appendage is actually a giant tooth with more than 10 million nerve endings, allowing the creature to detect everything from temperature changes to the salinity of the water.


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