Whale Watching in Cape Cod

Автор: admin  |  Категория: Statistics

Whale Watching in Cape Cod

Is a whale a mammal or a fish? Do whales have teeth? How does a whale sleep? Do whales play? These are some fun questions that you might think about while you are out on your whale-watching adventure.

Even though they live in the ocean, whales are not fish, they are mammals. They breathe air the same way land animals do. They are warm-blooded and have a thick layer of fat called blubber under their skin that protects them from the cold.

The male whale is called a bull, the female is called a cow and the baby whale is called a calf. Scientists call whale cetaceans (pronounced “Seh-TAY-shuns”), which is Latin for “whales.” Most of the whales you’ll see off the Cape Cod coast will be humpback whales. Their Latin name is megaptera novaenglie, which means “big-winged New Englander.”

There are two types of whales: toothed whales and baleen whales. Toothed whales catch fish and other sea animals with their teeth. Baleen whales have no teeth. Instead, they strain food from the water through their comb-like baleen plates that are located in their upper jaw. They gulp down schooling fish or millions of tiny sea creatures called plankton.

Most toothed whales are smaller than baleen whales. Dolphins, porpoises, sperm whales and orcas are all toothed whales. Toothed whales have one nostril or “blow-hole”; baleen whales have two. As a whale exhales, the warm air and moisture from its lungs causes a spray called a blow or spout. You can identify whales by the shape of their misty blows.

Two flat lobes make up a whale’s tail, or “flukes.” A whale swims by moving its flukes, which don’t contain any bones, up and down like a paddle. Fish swim by moving their tails from side to side.

Have you ever wondered how whales sleep? Whales never sleep. At least not the same way we do. Whales are voluntary breathers, meaning that they have to think each time they take a breath. Human beings can breathe even if they are unconscious; we are involuntary breathers. Some scientists think that whales are capable of unihemispherical sleep. That means that they can shut down one-half of their brain at a time while the active half of their brain reminds them to breathe. Sometimes whales are seen “logging” or floating on the water’s surface — this may just be a whale sleeping!

Whales can be very sociable animals. They often travel in pairs or groups called pods. Many species like to breach or leap out of the water. Some lob tail by lifting their flukes above the surface and splashing down hard. Others lift their heads straight out of the water. This is called spy hopping.

Perhaps you’ll spy a few of these fun behaviors on your whale watch!

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