Humpback whale tail flip off coast of Moloka'i, Hawaii, 2005
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Whale

Whales are the largest species of exclusively aquatic mammals, members of the order Cetacea, which also includes dolphins and porpoises. They are the largest mammals, the largest vertebrates, and the largest animals in the world. more...

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The term whale is ambiguous: it can refer to all cetaceans, to just the larger ones, or only to members of particular families within the order Cetacea. The latter definition is the one followed here. Whales are those cetaceans which are neither dolphins (i.e. members of the families Delphinidae or Platanistoidea), nor porpoises. This can lead to some confusion because Orcas ("Killer Whales") and Pilot Whales have "whale" in their name, but they are dolphins for the purpose of classification.

Origins and taxonomy

Whales, along with most dolphins and porpoises, are descendants of land-living mammals, most likely of the Artiodactyl order. They entered the water roughly 50 million years ago. See evolution of cetaceans for the details .

Cetaceans are divided into two suborders:

  • The baleen whales are characterized by the baleen, a sieve-like structure in the upper jaw made of keratin, which they use to filter plankton from the water. They are the largest whales.
  • The toothed whales have teeth and prey on fish, squid, or both. An outstanding ability of this group is to sense their surrounding environment through echolocation.

A complete up-to-date taxonomical listing of all cetacean species, including all whales, is maintained at the Cetacea article.

Anatomy

Like all mammals, whales breathe air into lungs, are warm-blooded (that is, endothermic), breast-feed their young, and have some (although very little) hair. The whales' ancestors lived on land, and their adaptions to a fully aquatic life are quite striking: The body is fusiform, resembling the streamlined form of a fish. The forelimbs, also called flippers, are paddle-shaped. The end of the tail holds the fluke, or tail fins, which provide propulsion by vertical movement. Although whales generally do not possess hind limbs, some whales (such as sperm whales, baleen whales, and humpback whales) have been seen having rudimentary hind limbs; some even with feet and digits. Most species of whale bear a fin on their backs known as a dorsal fin.

Beneath the skin lies a layer of fat, the blubber. It serves as an energy reservoir and also as insulation. Whales have a four-chambered heart. The neck vertebrae are fused in most whales, which provides stability during swimming at the expense of flexibility.

Whales breathe through blowholes, located on the top of the head so the animal can remain submerged. Baleen whales have two; toothed whales have one. When exhaling after a dive, a spout can be seen from the right perspective, the shape of which differs among the species. Whales have a unique respiratory system that lets them stay underwater for long periods of time without taking in any oxygen. Some whales, such as the Sperm Whale, can stay underwater for up to two hours holding a single breath.

Read more at Wikipedia.org


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The Lives Of Whales And Dolphins by Richard C. Connor, 1994 SoftcoverThe Lives Of Whales And Dolphins by Richard C. Connor, 1994 Softcover $2.50 Whales (Animals of the Oceans) by Hodge, JudithWhales (Animals of the Oceans) by Hodge, Judith $6.71
little Critterz Porcelain Miniature Orca Lc203 (Buy 5 get 6th free!)little Critterz Porcelain Miniature Orca Lc203 (Buy 5 get 6th free!) $11.50 Whale Lifeguard Christmas Tree Holiday Decoration OrnamentWhale Lifeguard Christmas Tree Holiday Decoration Ornament $6.79 Was: Previous Price $7.99
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Fish Sea Marine Whale Fabric Printed by Spoonflower BtyFish Sea Marine Whale Fabric Printed by Spoonflower Bty $17.50 to $34.00 Finding Dory Destiny the Whale Shark Disney Standup Standee Cardboard CutoutFinding Dory Destiny the Whale Shark Disney Standup Standee Cardboard Cutout $39.95
Carved Wood Whale Figurine w Something or Someone Inside Souvenir TravelCarved Wood Whale Figurine w Something or Someone Inside Souvenir Travel $9.99 Personalized Military Id Dog Tag with Chain - Killer Whale, Orca, OceanPersonalized Military Id Dog Tag with Chain - Killer Whale, Orca, Ocean $10.99
Teledyne Benthos B846-0240 Marine Ocean Technology EquipmentTeledyne Benthos B846-0240 Marine Ocean Technology Equipment $799.99 Old Navy Girls Medium 8 10 Teal Collar Short Sleeve Shirt WhaleOld Navy Girls Medium 8 10 Teal Collar Short Sleeve Shirt Whale $5.25
Orca Killer Whale Mdf Wood Coaster Set of 4Orca Killer Whale Mdf Wood Coaster Set of 4 $9.99 Lot of 7 Hallmark 1999 Merry Miniatures: Santa, Eskimo, Whale & MoreLot of 7 Hallmark 1999 Merry Miniatures: Santa, Eskimo, Whale & More $3.99
Whales: Super Fun Coloring Books For Kids And Adults (Bonus: 20 Sketch Pages) byWhales: Super Fun Coloring Books For Kids And Adults (Bonus: 20 Sketch Pages) by $13.23 Avon Whale Oil Lantern Tai Winds After Shave 5 fl ozAvon Whale Oil Lantern Tai Winds After Shave 5 fl oz $4.00
Pp1831 Beware of Whale Plate Rustic Chic Sign Home Store Wall Decor GiftPp1831 Beware of Whale Plate Rustic Chic Sign Home Store Wall Decor Gift $19.95 Tj Walton 'Whale Tail Aqua' 24x72-inch Triptych Canvas Art PrintTj Walton 'Whale Tail Aqua' 24x72-inch Triptych Canvas Art Print $137.95
Usn Sub Vet Uss Whale (Ssn-638) Reflective Text License FrameUsn Sub Vet Uss Whale (Ssn-638) Reflective Text License Frame $17.99 created blue opal whale tail drop earrings in sterling silvercreated blue opal whale tail drop earrings in sterling silver $40.31
Skin Decal Wrap for Dovpo Guardian 1.5 150W mod vape WhalesSkin Decal Wrap for Dovpo Guardian 1.5 150W mod vape Whales $8.99 Men's Vineyard Vines Long-Sleeve Vintage Whale Graphic Pocket T-Shirt size SmallMen's Vineyard Vines Long-Sleeve Vintage Whale Graphic Pocket T-Shirt size Small $15.50
Gi Joe 1984 Killer Whale Hovercraft Part Parts Turret with GunGi Joe 1984 Killer Whale Hovercraft Part Parts Turret with Gun $5.50 Vintage Seaworld Killer Whale Shamu Orca Plush Splash. Free Shipping!Vintage Seaworld Killer Whale Shamu Orca Plush Splash. Free Shipping! $25.00
Hand Painted polymer clay whale buttons, painted front and back.Hand Painted polymer clay whale buttons, painted front and back. $6.00 Beautiful and Unique Inspired Style Metal Whale Hook 2 Assorted Home DecorBeautiful and Unique Inspired Style Metal Whale Hook 2 Assorted Home Decor $28.09 List price: Previous Price $47.95
Child Killer Whale CostumeChild Killer Whale Costume $49.99 Gorgeous Hand Thrown Orcas Island Small Lidded Jar With Ferry Whales Mountains!Gorgeous Hand Thrown Orcas Island Small Lidded Jar With Ferry Whales Mountains! $10.07
Vtech Wyatt the Whale Storytelling Baby Soother with Glow-on-Ceiling Night LightVtech Wyatt the Whale Storytelling Baby Soother with Glow-on-Ceiling Night Light $51.11 Cabo San Lucas Mex Mexico Frosted Whale Etched Shot Glass Free ShippingCabo San Lucas Mex Mexico Frosted Whale Etched Shot Glass Free Shipping $9.25
Lot 3 Vintage Baby Blankets Green Pink White Fringed Edges Bear WhaleLot 3 Vintage Baby Blankets Green Pink White Fringed Edges Bear Whale $15.00 Sierra Leone - Whales - Stamp Souvenir Sheet - Sie1036SSierra Leone - Whales - Stamp Souvenir Sheet - Sie1036S $4.65
Gi Joe 1984 Killer Whale Hovercraft Part Parts Depth Charge Barrels Lot of 6Gi Joe 1984 Killer Whale Hovercraft Part Parts Depth Charge Barrels Lot of 6 $8.00 A Whale Hunt-ExLibraryA Whale Hunt-ExLibrary $3.99
Why the Whales CameWhy the Whales Came $3.99 Nautical sea life fish whale cushion cover decorative bedroom cute pillow coverNautical sea life fish whale cushion cover decorative bedroom cute pillow cover $8.72
Kabana Sterling Silver 925 Whale Tail Dangle EarringsKabana Sterling Silver 925 Whale Tail Dangle Earrings $99.99 Vtg Sunoco Endangered/American Wildlife Drink Glass/Tumbler - Humpback WhaleVtg Sunoco Endangered/American Wildlife Drink Glass/Tumbler - Humpback Whale $12.99
Carters Baby Girls Whale Sleeper Pajamas Size 3 MonthsCarters Baby Girls Whale Sleeper Pajamas Size 3 Months $2.99 Usn Sub Vet Uss Whale (Ssn-638) Frame w/Refl Text, Dolphins, RibbonsUsn Sub Vet Uss Whale (Ssn-638) Frame w/Refl Text, Dolphins, Ribbons $21.99
Vineyard Vines Classic Whale Logo Patch Gray Cotton Knit Ls Polo Shirt Sz SmallVineyard Vines Classic Whale Logo Patch Gray Cotton Knit Ls Polo Shirt Sz Small $39.99 A Whale in the Bathtub: By Westaway, KylieA Whale in the Bathtub: By Westaway, Kylie $17.94
Ocean Silk Suit Necktie Tie Free Shipping Amazing Sperm Whales Free ShipOcean Silk Suit Necktie Tie Free Shipping Amazing Sperm Whales Free Ship $6.99 Whale Blue Eye - Dizzy with Joy [New Cd]Whale Blue Eye - Dizzy with Joy [New Cd] $15.11 List price: Previous Price $34.47
Carter'S 3 Month Gray Heart Whale Leggings/Pants Adorable RebornCarter'S 3 Month Gray Heart Whale Leggings/Pants Adorable Reborn $3.99 Green Art Glass crystal blown Figurine Paperweight WhaleGreen Art Glass crystal blown Figurine Paperweight Whale $35.00
Whales Wall Plaque, Tile, Trivet~ Directly From Besheer Art TileWhales Wall Plaque, Tile, Trivet~ Directly From Besheer Art Tile $18.00 Jokari Whale or Dolphin Faucet Fountain Home Water Drinking FountainJokari Whale or Dolphin Faucet Fountain Home Water Drinking Fountain $5.89
Girls Youth Vineyard Vines Whale Rain Boots W/ Whalie Socks Sz 12 Nib!Girls Youth Vineyard Vines Whale Rain Boots W/ Whalie Socks Sz 12 Nib! $69.99 Safety 1st Ready Set Folding Walker Whale Bay Design Washable Seat Wide BaseSafety 1st Ready Set Folding Walker Whale Bay Design Washable Seat Wide Base $54.99
Gray Whale LaserWoody Unfinished Wood Shapes 2Gw749CGray Whale LaserWoody Unfinished Wood Shapes 2Gw749C $1.00 Super 8 mm Movie - Film - The Whale that became a Star - Black/White/Silent/#659Super 8 mm Movie - Film - The Whale that became a Star - Black/White/Silent/#659 $8.50
Vintage Jacques Cousteau Whales Large Coffee Table BookVintage Jacques Cousteau Whales Large Coffee Table Book $14.50 Spouting Whale Dritz Iron-On RhineStuds Craft Decoration #2923 * ~3" x 3-1/2"Spouting Whale Dritz Iron-On RhineStuds Craft Decoration #2923 * ~3" x 3-1/2" $2.59
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In the Mouth of the WhaleIn the Mouth of the Whale $3.99 Pp1835 Beware of Humpback Whale Plate Rustic Chic Sign Home Store Wall DecorPp1835 Beware of Humpback Whale Plate Rustic Chic Sign Home Store Wall Decor $19.95
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Ceramic 17-inch x 5-inch Whale BowlCeramic 17-inch x 5-inch Whale Bowl $33.94 '47 Philadelphia Phillies Red Wide Whale Beanie - Mlb'47 Philadelphia Phillies Red Wide Whale Beanie - Mlb $14.99
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The Wild Whale Watch (The Magic School Bus Chapter Book, No. 3) by Eva MooreThe Wild Whale Watch (The Magic School Bus Chapter Book, No. 3) by Eva Moore $3.99 Fluke: Or I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings (Today Show Book Club #25)Fluke: Or I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings (Today Show Book Club #25) $14.68
Mozambique - Whales on Stamps - 6 Stamp Sheet - 13A-251Mozambique - Whales on Stamps - 6 Stamp Sheet - 13A-251 $12.30 Sterling Silver Charm 3-D Whale TailSterling Silver Charm 3-D Whale Tail $11.99
Chooka Tonal Whales Mid Women Us 5 Blue Rain Boot Pre Owned 1213Chooka Tonal Whales Mid Women Us 5 Blue Rain Boot Pre Owned 1213 $18.99 List price: Previous Price $160.00 16 Nautical Blue Whale Candles Baby Shower Favors Table Decorations Q3640416 Nautical Blue Whale Candles Baby Shower Favors Table Decorations Q36404 $44.95
Littlest Pet Shop 824 823 Whale Snail Pair #823 #824 Pink Blue Lot LpsLittlest Pet Shop 824 823 Whale Snail Pair #823 #824 Pink Blue Lot Lps $5.95 "ColorBox Fluid Chalk Cat's Eye Ink Pad-Gray Whale, Set Of 6""ColorBox Fluid Chalk Cat's Eye Ink Pad-Gray Whale, Set Of 6" $10.25 List price: Previous Price $11.94
Safety 1st Ready-Set-Walk Walker Whale BaySafety 1st Ready-Set-Walk Walker Whale Bay $60.26 Wild Wings Wildlife Whales 2-Sided Sublimated All Over Print Poly T-ShirtWild Wings Wildlife Whales 2-Sided Sublimated All Over Print Poly T-Shirt $29.85 to $33.80
Gi Joe 1984 Killer Whale Hovercraft Part Parts Cover for Bottom Storage HatchGi Joe 1984 Killer Whale Hovercraft Part Parts Cover for Bottom Storage Hatch $4.00 Nwt Handmade Girls Smocked Yellow Polka dot with Blue Whales Size 18MNwt Handmade Girls Smocked Yellow Polka dot with Blue Whales Size 18M $25.33
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Sierra Leone - Whales - 4 Stamp Sheet - Sie1036HSierra Leone - Whales - 4 Stamp Sheet - Sie1036H $8.80 Bert Whaling 1914 B18 Boston Nl Baseball BlanketBert Whaling 1914 B18 Boston Nl Baseball Blanket $7.99
Whale Done!: The Power of Positive Relationships by Blanchard Ph.D., Kenneth, LWhale Done!: The Power of Positive Relationships by Blanchard Ph.D., Kenneth, L $1.99 Orca Killer Whale Mermaid Note Cards from Original Watercolors by GrimshawOrca Killer Whale Mermaid Note Cards from Original Watercolors by Grimshaw $6.00
Handmade Miniature Glass Whale FigurineHandmade Miniature Glass Whale Figurine $19.00 Otagiri Mug Cup W Black & White Killer Whale, Whales JapanOtagiri Mug Cup W Black & White Killer Whale, Whales Japan $14.00
Mohawk Home Aurora Oh Whale Striped Waves Nautical Printed Kids Area Rug 5'x8.Mohawk Home Aurora Oh Whale Striped Waves Nautical Printed Kids Area Rug 5'x8. $107.25 Pair of Antique American Brass Whale Oil Lamps, signed, by William H. Webb NicePair of Antique American Brass Whale Oil Lamps, signed, by William H. Webb Nice $2,050.00
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Prices current as of last update, 08/16/17 10:20am.

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