World Whale Day

- By: Safia Ohlson

World Whale Day

Happy World Whale Day! In celebration of these social mammals who nurture, bond, play, sing, and cooperate with one another, we've rounded up some inspiring and amazing whale facts — reminders of why creating a #LifeAfterPlastic is so important for all those who live in the ocean.

1. Dolphins and porpoises are, from a scientific standpoint, whales. There are currently around 90 recognized species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises (collectively known as cetaceans), including 15 baleen whales, three sperm whales, 23 beaked whales, 38 oceanic dolphins, four river dolphins, and seven porpoises.

2. The largest brain on Earth belongs to the sperm whale, the volume of which is 8,000 cubic centimeters (more than five times that of human brains). A sperm whale’s brain weighs up to 20 pounds, which is six times heavier than a human brain. In evolutionary terms, humans have only had the big brains we do now for about 200,000 years; in contrast, the current size of the sperm whale brain has changed little from that of its cetacean ancestors, which evolved some 55 million years ago.

3. A whale song is a long, patterned sequence of sounds. Whale songs are complex and must be learned from other whales. Male humpback whales are the best-known singers — their beautiful songs are ever-evolving and can last for up to 30 minutes. These whale songs span seven octaves (nearly the entire range of a piano) and feature various themes sung in a sequence that is common to all males in the same breeding area that year. During the winter mating season, they repeat the songs over and over for hours at a time and gradually change them as the breeding season progresses. Each year a new song is produced.

4. Male narwhals have the longest teeth. They grow one canine tooth, or tusk, which sticks straight out at the front of their mouths and grows up to nine feet long. The narwhal’s sword-like tusk grows in a counter clockwise spiral and pokes right through the upper left-hand side of the mouth. The narwhal’s tusk is thought analogous to the antlers in male deer or the mane of a male lion. Very rarely, a female narwhal will grow a tusk or a male will grow two tusks. Inside their mouths, narwhals do not have any teeth at all!

5. Sperm whales have the biggest full set of teeth with 40 to 52 cone-shaped chompers, ranging from four to eight inches long, located in their narrow lower jaws. Each tooth weighs as much as two pounds!

6. Bowhead whales (part of the baleen family) can live up to 200 years.

7. Orca whales are the ocean’s top predator. They make three types of vocalizations: clicks, whistles, and pulsed calls. Clicks are used for echolocation to help the whales find food, while whistles and calls allow them to share information with their group.

We hope you enjoyed reading a little about these complex, amazing mammals. In our esteem, if it’s not plastic-free, it’s not truly cruelty-free. Eliminating single-use plastics is one of the best ways we know to help ensure that our planet will benefit from the magical presence of whales well into the future!