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The Cetaceans Portal

A Sperm Whale fluke

Cetaceans (from Latin: cetus, lit.' whale', from Ancient Greek: κῆτος, romanized kētos, lit.'huge fish', sea monster) are aquatic mammals constituting the infraorder Cetacea ( /sɪˈtʃə/). Key characteristics are their fully aquatic lifestyle, streamlined body shape, often large size and exclusively carnivorous diet. They propel themselves through the water with powerful up-and-down movement of their tail which ends in a paddle-like fluke, using their flipper-shaped forelimbs to maneuver.

While the majority of Cetaceans live in marine environments, a small number exclusively reside in brackish water or freshwater. Having a cosmopolitan distribution, they can be found in some rivers and all of earth's oceans and many species inhabit vast ranges where they migrate with the changing of the seasons.

Cetaceans are famous for their high intelligence and complex social behaviour as well as the enormous size of some of its members, like the blue whale reaching a maximum confirmed length of 29.9 meters (98 feet) and weight of 173 tonnes (190 short tons), making it the largest animal known to have ever existed.

There are approximately 86 living species split into two parvorders: Odontoceti or toothed whales (containing porpoises, dolphins, other predatory whales like the beluga and the sperm whale, and the poorly understood beaked whales) and the filter feeding Mysticeti or baleen whales (which includes species like the blue whale, the humpback whale and the bowhead whale). ( Full article...)

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Balaenoptera borealis 3.jpg

The Sei Whale (Balaenoptera borealis) is a baleen whale, the third largest rorqual after the Blue Whale and the Fin Whale. It can be found worldwide in all oceans and adjoining seas, and prefers deep off-shore waters. It tends to avoid polar and tropical waters and semi-enclosed bodies of water. The Sei Whale migrates annually from cool and subpolar waters in summer to temperate and subtropical waters for winter, although in most areas the exact migration routes are not well known.

The whales reach lengths of up to 20 metres (66 ft) long and weigh up to 45  tonnes (50  tons). It consumes an average of 900 kilograms (2,000 lb) of food each day, primarily copepods and krill, and other zooplankton. It is among the fastest of all cetaceans, and can reach speeds of up to 50 kilometres per hour (31 mph) over short distances.

Following large-scale commercial hunting of the species between the late-nineteenth and late-twentieth centuries when over 238,000 individuals were taken, the Sei Whale is now an internationally protected species, although limited hunting still occurs under controversial research programmes conducted by Iceland and Japan. As of 2006, the worldwide population of the Sei Whale was about 54,000, about a fifth of its pre-whaling population.

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Dolphins at Loro Parque, Tenerife.
Photo credit: Piotrus

A dolphinarium is an aquarium for dolphins. The dolphins are usually kept in a large pool, though occasionally they may be kept in pens in the open sea, either for research or for public performances. Some dolphinariums consist of one pool where dolphins perform for the public (such as above at Loro Parque), others have expanded into much larger parks, keeping other marine animals and having other attractions.

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'Did you know...

  • ...the male narwhal's tusk can be up to 3.5 metres in length which is over the size of an average female without a horn and weigh up to 10 kilograms.
  • ...male narwhal(e)s tusk is the canine growing through the lip. Sometimes, the male will have 2 tusks but their number is small. Female narwhal(e) rarely have a tusk and if they do, it must be smaller than the males. Also,there is only 1 recorded case of a duel horned female narwhal(e)
  • ...observations of cetaceans date back to at least the classical period in Greece, when fisherpeople made notches on the dorsal fins of dolphins entangled in nets in order to tell them apart years later.
  • ...groups of bottlenose dolphins around the Australian Pacific have displayed basic tool use by wrapping pieces of sponge around their beaks to prevent abrasions. This is a display of a cognitive process similar to that of great apes.

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Cetacean articles

Whale species

Andrews' Beaked WhaleBalaenoptera omuraiBelugaBlainville's Beaked WhaleBlue Whale Cscr-featured.svgBottlenose WhaleBowhead WhaleBryde's WhaleCuvier's Beaked WhaleDwarf Sperm WhaleFin Whale Cscr-featured.svgGervais' Beaked WhaleGiant beaked whaleGinkgo-toothed Beaked WhaleGray WhaleGray's Beaked WhaleHector's Beaked WhaleHubbs' Beaked WhaleHumpback Whale Cscr-featured.svgLayard's Beaked WhaleLongman's Beaked WhaleMelon-headed WhaleMinke WhaleNarwhalPerrin's Beaked WhalePygmy Beaked WhalePygmy Killer WhalePygmy Right WhalePygmy Sperm WhaleRight Whale Cscr-featured.svgSei Whale Cscr-featured.svgShepherd's Beaked WhaleSowerby's Beaked WhaleSpade Toothed WhaleSperm Whale Symbol support vote.svgStejneger's Beaked WhaleTrue's Beaked Whale

Dolphin species

Atlantic Spotted DolphinAtlantic White-sided DolphinAustralian Snubfin DolphinBaijiBotoChilean DolphinClymene DolphinCommerson's DolphinCommon Bottlenose DolphinDusky Dolphin Symbol support vote.svgFalse Killer WhaleFraser's DolphinGanges and Indus River DolphinHeaviside's DolphinHector's DolphinHourglass DolphinHumpback dolphinIndo-Pacific Bottlenose DolphinIrrawaddy DolphinKiller Whale Cscr-featured.svgLa Plata DolphinLong-beaked Common DolphinLong-finned pilot whalePacific White-sided DolphinPantropical Spotted DolphinPeale's DolphinPygmy Killer WhaleRight whale dolphinRisso's DolphinRough-toothed DolphinShort-beaked Common DolphinShort-finned pilot whaleSpinner DolphinStriped DolphinTucuxiWhite-beaked Dolphin

Porpoise species

Burmeister's PorpoiseDall's PorpoiseFinless PorpoiseHarbour PorpoiseSpectacled PorpoiseVaquita

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Aboriginal whalingAmbergrisAnimal echolocationArchaeocetiBaleenBaleen whaleBeached whaleBeaked WhaleBlowhole (biology)BlubberBottlenose dolphin Symbol support vote.svgCallosityCephalorhynchusCetaceaCetacean intelligenceCetologyCetology of Moby-DickCommon dolphinCumberland Sound BelugaDolphinDolphinarium Symbol support vote.svgDolphin drive hunting Symbol support vote.svgEvolution of cetaceansExploding whaleHarpoonHistory of whalingHuman–animal communicationInstitute of Cetacean ResearchInternational Whaling CommissionLagenorhynchusMelon (whale)Mesoplodont WhaleMilitary dolphinMoby-DickMocha DickMonodontidaeOceanic dolphinOrcaellaPilot Whale Symbol support vote.svgPorpoiseRiver dolphinRiver Thames WhaleRorqualsSperm whale familySperm whalingSpermacetiStenellaTay WhaleThe Marine Mammal CenterToothed WhaleU.S. Navy Marine Mammal ProgramWhale Symbol support vote.svgWhalingWhale and Dolphin Conservation SocietyWhale surfacing behaviourWhale oilWhale louseWhale songWhale watchingWolphin

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