Curiosities on the Whales
Did you know that the whales don’t form couples but mating groups? Why are the whales the species with the biggest testicles in the animal kingdom? Why can it be said that whales are giant water filtering machines? What are the formations similar to callosities the whales have on the upper part of their bodies?
Let know a series of curious data on these mammals, giants of the sea that every year¬†arrive in June to the coast of the Peninsula of Vald√©s to stay until the very end of spring. There they will mate and you will be able to see how the calves, born in previous years and perfectly identified by the investigators for the study of the population, are getting on.
The whales and their “Families”
Contrary to what is believed if one bears in mind the interwoven¬†unity of the mother and their offspring, the whales¬†don’t form steady family groups. Their system of mating is promiscuous,¬†they form sexual groups that can be observed very well in the Vald√©s¬†Peninsula, in which there is a female and several males. The¬†males compete among them to fecundate the female.
This competition is the reason for the peculiar characteristic¬†of this species: the size of the testicles of the male individuals.¬†They are the biggest in relation to their corporal weight in the¬†whole Animal Kingdom. It happens that, since several males compete¬†in a sexual intercourse group, the one with more chances of fertilizing¬†the only ovum of the female will be the male that produces a bigger¬†quantity of sperm. It is a peculiar case of intrasexual competition¬†called “spermatic competition.”
To filter to eat
The¬†Right Whales have¬†an immense mouth, caused by an extremely arched superior jaw, inside¬†which there are some extremely long beards. These beards are bigger¬†than a tall person: an adult could fit, standing with his/her arms¬†spread out, inside the mouth of a whale.
The whales swallow tons of sea water, then close their mouth and¬†draw all the water from the mouth, filtering it with the beards.¬†Large quantities of food, such as plankton and other microorganisms,¬†remain trapped in the “beard”, and are withdrawn by their¬†huge tongue.
In the waters of the Peninsula¬†Vald√©s one can watch for hours on end how the whales¬†swim and feed continuously, absorbing tons of water.
Callosities on the back?
One way of recognizing a Right Whale is by noting the presence¬†of certain characteristic callosities on the upper part of its body¬†and at the sides of the head.
These callosities are covered by thousands of crustaceans known¬†as “Whale lice”, or more properly called crustaceans.
These crustaceans are born, grow, reproduce and die on the body¬†of the whales. They are crustacean parasites. They are located on¬†every part of the body where they are protected from the currents.
Bibliographical source: Institute of Conservation of Whales
(Instituto de Conservaci√≥n de Ballenas)
Translated into English by Geoffrey Astbury.
- Southern Whale N.M.
- The whales and their “Families”
- To filter to eat
- Callosities on the whales
- Southern Whale: Vulnerable species