A-z - Animals

Baby whales: 5 pictures and 5 facts

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There is no doubt that small whales are very cute giants of the seabed. They are amazing sea creatures and some of the largest animals in the entire world. Did you know that blue whale babies gain an average of 200 pounds a day, or that whale calves nurse over 40 times a day? Read on to find out five amazing baby whale facts, and check out some seriously adorable pictures.

#1: Baby whales can't breathe underwater

baby whale and mother
Baby whales breathe through their blowholes.

© Justin Birken/Shutterstock.com

Did you know that baby whales can't breathe underwater? This is real! Although they are marine animals, whales are mammals, which means they lack the gills they need to help them breathe underwater.

Instead of taking oxygen from the water, whales use their blowholes to draw in air from the surface. They only eat with their mouths and are actually physically unable to breathe through their mouths. Some whales even have two blowholes because they are so big!

Since whales can't breathe as they swim up and down the ocean floor, it means they have to hold their breath. On average, whales can hold their breath for up to 90 minutes before needing to surface for more air! That's about as long as it takes to watch an entire movie!

#2: The baby whale is huge!

baby whale underwater
Mother whale swims with her baby.

© martin_hristov/Shutterstock.com

Whales are one of the largest animals in the world, and baby whales are no exception. Whale calves, which will grow up to be the largest mammals in the world, are born weighing a staggering six to eight tonnes . These gigantic babies take about 10 to 15 years to fully mature and can live up to 90 years in the wild.

Read more  Scarab

As blue whales grow, expect them to gain about 200 pounds per day. Their breast milk is extremely high in fat, which allows them to gain weight at an alarming rate. These statistics make the baby blue whale the fastest growing animal in the world.

Sperm whales and right whales are also among the largest whales on Earth. Newborns of both species weigh about a ton.

#3: Beluga Calves Can Swim Backwards

baby beluga whale swimming
Belugas are the only whales that can swim backwards.

©Christopher Meder/Shutterstock.com

Beluga whales are one of the most unique whales in the world. For example, these cute little whales can swim backwards and blow bubbles, traits not found in other whale species.

Ready to learn another fact that sets Beluga apart? They undergo an annual molt. This means that once a year they shed completely, revealing a new layer of skin underneath.

Since beluga whales are arctic whales, they also don't have a dorsal fin. This helps ensure they can stay warm in cold water, as the fins allow excess heat to escape from their bodies. These adorable babies have a layer of fat under their skin that helps trap heat despite the extremely cold water they live in.

#4: Baby bowhead whales can live to be 200 years old!

Bowhead whale rushes off western coast of Sea of Okhotsk
Bowhead whale rushes off western coast of Sea of Okhotsk

© Olga Shpak/CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – License

Of all the young whales on Earth, bowhead whale calves live the longest. On average, these babies live 200 years or more. They're not just the longest-lived whales, though; they're also among the longest-lived animals in the world, topping the list of longest-lived mammals.

Read more  hammerhead shark

#5: Baby whales nurse over 40 times a day

killer whale baby
Baby whales nurse over 40 times a day!

© slowmotiongli/Shutterstock.com

We already know that whale calves gain some weight every day. The largest whales can gain 200 pounds a day. You can probably imagine how much food a whale would need to eat to gain that much weight, but it's hard to understand how mother's milk alone could allow a whale to grow so fast.

Whale breast milk does not have the same texture or consistency as milk in the refrigerator. It has a consistency similar to cottage cheese and a milkshake-like consistency. That's because calves need a lot of food to sustain such extreme growth, with breast milk being between 35% and 50% fat.

Mother sharks can produce 200 liters of milk per day. Their mammary glands can weigh as much as a baby elephant! Now, that's a lot of milk!

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