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How well do you know the whale?

A look into the eye of a blue whale

Whales are large, intelligent, aquatic mammals. Unlike fish, which breathe through gills, whales breathe air through blowholes on the top of their heads. Whales have to come above water to breathe.

Like all mammals, whales

  • breathe with lungs

  • have hair (although they have a lot less than land mammals, and adult whales have almost no hair)

  • are warm-blooded, maintaining a constant body temperature

  • produce milk to nourish their young

  • have a four-chambered heart

The blue whale is thought to be the largest animal that ever existed on Earth. It grows to be about 94 feet long—the height of a nine-story building. These enormous animals can eat as much as 4 tons of tiny krill each day, obtained by filter feeding through baleen. Adult blue whales have no predators except humans.

How to care for a stranded whale

Sometime a whale will blunder ashore for some reason and become stranded, or beached. If you come across a beached whale, there are things you can do to help rescue it:

  1. Contact the nearest national park or wildlife department office.

  2. Pour buckets of seawater over the whale's skin to help it stay cool and wet. Never pour water in the blowhole because this could cause the whale to drown. Do not cover the fins; whales use them to stay cool.

  3. When the wildlife officers arrive, follow their instructions exactly.

Whales measure up

Go outdoors and unwind 100 feet of yarn in a straight line. This is the average length of a blue whale!


Go to usps4kids.org for more fun activities.

 

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