Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Up Close: Whales

Yisrael Rutman

Whales have fascinated us for centuries. A blowhole for a nose, a giant strainer for teeth, eyes miles apart. Let’s take a closer look

Thursday, October 06, 2016

 Mishpacha image

Photo: Shutterstock

L ength: Whales are the largest creatures on Earth.

But one size doesn’t fit all. The biggest is the Blue Whale, which can weigh 150 tons and measure up to 100 feet — longer than two school buses parked end to end. The Minke Whale is the midget of the species, “only” about 30 feet. 

Fins and Flippers: Whales swim by moving their tail fins and lowering their body up and down. The fins (called flukes) are used for steering. They can move through the water as fast as 22 miles per hour, about the same speed as an average cruise ship.

Blowhole: Whales don’t have a nose. We looked all over and couldn’t find one. But they do have a hole, called a blowhole, on top of their heads. Whales spend most of their time underwater, living on the air they take in before a dive. When returning to the surface, they blow out air, water, and mucus through this hole. In other words, “blowing their nose” through the top of their heads. The spray, or blow, can often be seen from far away. But by the time you get there, it’ll be too late for a tissue…

Baleen: Some whales have teeth, others eat their food using what’s called baleen — kind of a giant strainer made of keratin, the same stuff that makes up our fingernails. The Baleen Whale has 600 baleen plates in its upper jaw, which let the food pass through while keeping the saltwater out (like you, whales can’t drink saltwater). They eat fish and tiny organisms called plankton. And a ton of it — literally. The bigger whales consume about a ton (2,000 lbs) of food a day!

Related Stories

Day of Days

C. Rosenberg

Yom Kippur, a day of hushed whispers, heartfelt prayers, and awed feeling — if you spend Yom Kippur ...

Succos Blues

Daliya Shapiro

I could never fathom how my siblings were always laughing and singing and so happy when everything a...

Jolly Solly: A Sorry Pair

R. Atkins

As far as asking forgiveness was concerned, Fishel and Faivish — conveniently forgetting all their s...

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
Evolution vs. Revolution
Shoshana Friedman I call it the “what happened to my magazine?” response
Up, Up, and Away
Rabbi Moshe Grylak What a fraught subject Eretz Yisrael is, to this day
Where Do You Come From?
Yonoson Rosenblum Could they be IDF officers with no Jewish knowledge?
Heaven Help Us
Eytan Kobre Writing about anti-Semitism should rouse, not soothe
Work/Life Solutions with Chedva Kleinhandler
Moe Mernick “Failures are our compass to success”
An Un-Scientific Survey
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Are Jerusalemites unfriendly? Not necessarily
Out of Anger
Jacob L. Freedman How Angry Lawyer was finally able to calm down
5 Things You Didn’t Know about…Yitzy Bald
Riki Goldstein He composed his first melody at eight years old
When the Floodgates of Song Open, You’re Never Too Old
Riki Goldstein Chazzan Pinchas Wolf was unknown until three years ago
Who Helped Advance These Popular Entertainers?
Riki Goldstein Unsung deeds that boosted performers into the limelight
Your Task? Ask
Faigy Peritzman A tangible legacy I want to pass on to my children
Are You There?
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Emotional withdrawal makes others feel lonely, abandoned
A Peace of a Whole
Rebbetzin Debbie Greenblatt Love shalom more than you love being right
Seminary Applications
Rabbi Zecharya Greenwald, as told to Ariella Schiller It’s just as hard for seminaries to reject you