Whales Essay

Whales Essay

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Whale weighs as much as 20 elephants but lives beneath the sea. The blue

whale is Earth's largest animal. Larger than the largest of ancient

dinosaurs, blue whales can grow to be more than 100 feet (30 meters) long

and weigh nearly 150 tons. Not all whales are so large. The much smaller

pilot whale grows to about 28 feet (8.5 meters) in length. And dolphins,

which belong to the whale family, range only from 3 to 13 feet (1 to 4

meters). Although whales spend their lives in the sea, they are, like

humans, warm-blooded mammals. After a baby whale is born, it nurses on its

mother's milk, just like the young of land mammals.

Whales are members of the order Cetacea, along with dolphins, porpoises, and

the narwhal. There are two basic types of living cetaceans: baleen, or

whalebone, whales of the scientific suborder Mysticeti; and toothed whales

of the suborder Odontoceti.

General Characteristics

Whales live in all of the open seas of the world, though some occasionally

enter coastal waters. Some species, such as the white whale, or beluga, may

travel upstream in large rivers. Some species migrate with the seasons;

others remain year-round in the same habitats, where they find their

preferred food.

The present-day distribution and abundance of some species has been greatly

influenced by the commercial whaling industry. Whalers eliminated or greatly

reduced the numbers of some species of baleen whales in certain oceanic

regions where whales once frolicked in abundance. This is particularly true

in parts of the Arctic Ocean and the eastern North Atlantic Ocean, where the

blue whale was almost completely exterminated in the early 1900s. Some

species of whales, however, are numerous today in the Arctic and Antarctic

regions.

The skin of whales is usually black, gray, black and white, or all white.

Some, such as the blue whale, have skin that is bluish-gray. The surface of

the skin is smooth, but like other mammals, whales have hair. Hair first

appears while the fetal whale is still developing inside its mother's womb.

In adult whales, hair is confined primarily to a few bristles in the head

region and is largely absent over most of the body. Whales that live in

polar regions are insulated from the extreme cold by a layer of blubber, or

fat, enveloping their bodies.

Baleen Whales



The baleen whales inc...


... middle of paper ...


...usion

In 1946 the International Whaling Commission (IWC) was established to set up

the guidelines followed by whaling nations today. The sizes, kinds,

locations, and seasons of catches are controlled. However, strong

international politics came into play, and some nations steadfastly voted

against, or even ignored, restrictions that were not economically

advantageous. The limitations were passed almost too late for the blue

whale, which had already declined to dangerously low numbers in all oceans.

The once large populations of blue whales in the eastern North Atlantic were

almost brought to extinction. Today, fewer than 500, and possibly as few as

100, are found there. In 1971 the United States declared all commercially

exploited whales endangered species and made it illegal to import any whale

products. The United States lists the blue, bowhead, finback, gray,

humpback, right, sei, and sperm whales as endangered species. Therefore, we

should take goof care of whale.



Works Cited

Cousteau, Jacques, and Paccalet, Yves. Whales (W.H. Allen, 1998).

Tinker, S.W. Whales of the World (Bess Press, 1997).

Day, David. The Whale War (Sierra Club Books, 1997).

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