Whales are the largest mammals as compared to all others; be it on land or in the sea. Approximately 85 different species of whales have been discovered by scientists. There are more being added to the list till date. Depending on the presence of teeth, the whales are broadly classified in to two categories, namely toothed and toothless or baleen whales. The former comprises 73 percent of the total whale populace, while the latter has approximately 12 to 14 percent.
These whales have approximately forty to fifty-six teeth in all. Each side of the jaw houses approximately 10 to 14 teeth. These teeth are not utilized for chewing. Instead, the teeth are inter-locked and used for pulling out chunks of flesh from the prey and swallowing them. The presence of teeth and their number varies in different species of whales. The males in beaked whales have only single pair of teeth. The females in this variety are toothless. In case of the sperm whale, the teeth are lined up only in the lower jaw. These fit in to grooves in the upper jaw. The blue whales and the gray humpback whales are toothless. These are called baleen whales. These whales have specially adapted plates called baleen in their jaws which function as sieve and strain the food, so that whales can consume it.
Scientists remain in pursuit of whales in order to learn more and make us aware of their habitats, characteristics, food habits and so on. Apart from the 85 species already discovered, there are discoveries still being made which speaks of the expanse of nature and the life forms therein. Enthusiasts and scientists are in pursuit of whales for knowledge and spreading awareness amongst us about the harm we are causing to their environment and the precautions we can take to maintain a balanced ecocycle. Whale hunting for fun and for making products using their skin and blubber has dwindled their numbers to near extinction.
The blue whales used to be found in large numbers in all the oceans. However, this is not the case any longer. They are now restricted to the Indian Ocean, Antarctic and the northeast Pacific Ocean. Orca or killer whale, on the other hand, inhabits all the oceans across the world. Humpback whales, also known as baleen whales, were abundant in majority of the oceans, but whale hunting has reduced their numbers. Beluga whales or white whales are seen mostly in the sub-Arctic and Arctic Ocean. Fin whales inhabit nearly all the oceans. However, excess hunting has categorized them as endangered species today.
More Articles :
- Blue Whale Facts
- Detailed Information On Humpback Whale
- How Many Teeth Do Whales Have ?
- Whale Shark Facts For Kids
Sea World: Ask Shamu; Frequently Asked Questions