Whale species are either classed as toothed whales or baleen whales depending on their physical characteristics – smaller toothed whales have teeth, while baleen whales have plates with bristles instead.
To stay warm in freezing cold water, whales are covered in a layer of blubber of up to one foot in thickness, depending on the species.
Contrary to the myth, no whale could swallow a human whole – even the largest whales only have an oesophagus the size of a beach ball.
Baleen whales are born with two blowholes and without the ability to echolocate, while toothed whales have one blowhole and can echolocate.
Whales are part of the cetacean species, which consists of whales as well as dolphins and porpoises, and are genetically distinct from fish.
The largest toothed whale is the sperm whale (found in Kaikoura!) which can grow up to 20.4 metres long and can weigh up to 50 tonnes!
Blue whales can eat up to 40 million krill per day, which can weigh up to 3,600 kilograms – an average of one million calories a day!
Whales are referred to the same way as cows – the males are called bulls, the females are called cows, and the children are referred to as calves.
Whales’ earliest ancestors lived 50 million years ago, meaning that - along with lizards - they are one of our few remaining connections to the age of the dinosaurs.
Each whale has a tail that’s uniquely identifiable, just like human fingerprints! Their slits, grooves, and brown algae spots are gained over time and can’t be replicated.
A blue whale’s tale can create up to 500 horsepower when moving at full speed – up there with our best energy sources!
The smallest animal in the whale family is the harbour porpoise, which only grows up to five feet long at their largest size.
The beluga whale is unusual - it’s the only member of the cetacean family that can make facial expressions.
Blue whales are one of the loudest animals on earth - the sounds they make can be heard by whales up to 1,600 kilometres away.
The blue whale’s heart is approximately the size of a Volkswagen Beetle, making it the largest heart on earth!
Whales don’t get the water they need from seawater – they instead get the water they essentially ‘drink’ by metabolising the fat in their food.
Whales are warm-blooded mammals, meaning that they breathe air and produce offspring and milk just like other mammals.
The milk that they produce is actually not liquid like other mammals’ milk – its consistency has the thickness of toothpaste at its softest.
Currently, there are 40-plus species of whales in existence.
Female whales breed with different males throughout their lifetime, giving birth every two to three years with a different mate.