Whale Facts and Information

Whale Facts, Whale Watching Info, Links, and Miscellaneous Information


"If you want a lesson in beauty, in harmony, in balance, just swim with whales or dolphins" - by Wyland


humpback whale drawing

  • Average Length: (Adult) 35-50 ft (Newborn) 13-16 ft
  • Average Weight: (Adult) 23-30 tons (Birth) 1-2 tons
  • Population: 18,000-20,000 (2002 figure)
  • Lifespan: estimated to be around 40 years (1998 figure)
  • Threats: Caught in fishing nets, human disturbance, and being tangled in marine pollution
  • The flukes (tails) have a distinct pattern on the underside, much like our fingerprints
  • The humpback whale breaches more frequently than other baleen whales
  • The Pacific humpback's pectoral fins are white underneath & black on top..
  • The Atlantic humpback's pectoral fins are white on both sides- which makes it easier for us to see them
  • While in their breeding grounds- the whales do NOT eat!
  • Some humpbacks feed in the Southern Ocean and go north to their reproductive areas!
  • Can stay underwater for 30 minutes but often dives for much shorter periods of time, usually 5 to 10 minutes
  • Humpbacks emit high frequency "clicks" reaching 30,000 Hz
  • The males produce, in frequencies between 20 and 9,000 Hz, songs that are the longest and the most varied in all the animal kingdom, with repeated sequences about 15 minutes long
  • When they are in cold waters, the humpback whale eats 2 tons of fish and planktonic crustaceans a day, in 2 to 4 meals

  • Where to Look (Summer): Alaska, Cape Cod, Vancouver (B.C.), ...
  • Where to Look (Winter): Dominican Republic, Turks & Caicos Islands , Hawaii, Costa Rica, Tonga, ...


Orca pod drawing
  • Average Length: (Adult) 18-32 ft (Newborn) 7-8 ft
  • Average Weight: (Adult) 2.6-9 tons (Birth) 395 lbs
  • Nicknames: Killer whale, blackfish, grampus
  • Diet: "opportunistic"- the orca is one of the ocean's top predators (see below)
  • Range: All oceans of the world
  • Threats: Capture for public display, hunting, pollution
  • The largest member of the dolphin family
  • There is no known case of a wild orca ever killing a human
  • Orcas stay in long-term social groups, or pods, for life (group size: 3-25)
  • Orcas can be reliably seen on tours around Vancouver Island, off Antarctica, Norway, and Iceland, and occasionally in many other areas
  • Orcas can travel at up to 34 mph (55 km/h)
  • There are 2 'genetically' distinct forms of orcas, known as "transients" and "residents"
  • A versatile predator and has one of the most varied diets of all cetaceans. It is known to eat anything from squid, fish, and birds to sea turtles, seals, and dolphins; it will even tackle animals as large as Blue Whales!
  • Gestation period is thought to be 12-16 months, with most calves born between October and March

  • Where to Look: One of the most wide-ranging mammals on earth, though distribution is patchy. Seen more often in cooler waters than in the tropics and subtropics.


Gray Whale drawing
  • Average Length: (Male) 43 ft (Female) 41 ft (Newborn) 15 ft
  • Average Weight: (Adult) 26 tons (Birth) 1,500 lbs
  • Nicknames: Mussel digger, hard head, devil fish, gray back
  • Group size: Generally 1-3; traveling groups can contain up to 16; hundreds can gather in good feeding conditions
  • Lifespan: between 30 and 40 years, but may even be up to 60 years
  • Gray whales are messy eaters
  • Only whale that is known to feed often in the sand and mud ("bottom feeder")... feeding on shellfish, crabs and worms
  • Each year, gray whales (only found in the North Pacific ocean) make the 12,400 mile round trip between Mexico and Alaska
  • The cruising speed during migration is about 1 to 3 miles per hour
  • Eastern Pacific gray whales, nearly extinct in the late nineteenth century, are now thought to number more than 20,000 (1998 figure)
  • Young gray whales are often 'friendly', coming to the side of boats and even lifting them out of the water
  • Pregnant females give birth to single calves just before or soon after arriving at the breeding lagoons; beginning in late December
  • Gestation period is about 13.5 months, with approximately 2 years between pregnancies

  • Where to Look: Found in Arctic feeding grounds April to November, and in Mexican breeding grounds December to April. Migrates south October to February, and north February to July.
Searching for Gray whales off the San Diego coast


Blue whale drawing
  • The largest living creature on Earth!
  • The record appears to be at least 110 feet long and a weight of 209 tons (It was a female)
  • Average Length: (Male) 82 ft (Female) 85 ft (Birth) 19 1/2 ft
  • Average Weight: (Adult) 100-120 tons (Newborn) 2.5-4 tons
  • Population: low thousands (2002 figure)
  • Diet: Krill and Fish
  • Range: All oceans of the world
  • Lifespan: More than 80 years
  • Threats: Loss of food, pollution
  • A blue whale drinks 50-150 gallons of milk a day, adding about 8 pounds of weight per hour, or 200 pounds a day
  • At about 8 months of age, when the calf is weened, it can measure close to 50 feet long and weigh about 50,000 pounds
  • At sea, blue whales usually feed alone or in pairs, often widely spaced
  • A blue whale's "blow" can reach as high as 30 feet!
  • During the feeding period, a blue whale can ingest 4 tons of krill a day. They feed at the beginning and the end of the night at a depth of at least 130 feet (40 m).
  • Pre-whaling population estimates were over 350,000 blue whales, but up to 99% of blue whales were killed during whaling efforts
  • Blue whales have no known predators (other than humans during the whaling years)
  • By the 1950s, blue whales were endangered
  • Where to Look(Pacific): Channel Islands (near Santa Barbara, CA) during July & August, Also- warm, temperate waters of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. They migrate as far north and south as the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans during the summer.
  • Where to Look(Atlantic): They migrate to the Arctic during spring & summer, to waters near Spitsbergen, Davis Strait and Southern Greenland & possibly Baffin Bay. Wintering grounds are not well known. On the eastern side of the Atlantic records exist from the Cape Verde Islands & west Africa & seasonally off Europe and the British Isles. IF you live in Switzerland (Kevin...) - the best bet is West Africa, Iceland or Norway
Distribution & Migration of Blue whales

More facts


Fin whale drawing

  • Average Length: (Adult) 59-72 ft (Newborn) 19-21 ft
  • Average Weight: (Adult) 30-80 tons (Birth) 2 tons
  • Population: 100,000+ (2002 figure)
  • Diet: squid, fish, krill or other crustaceans
  • Range: Widely distributed... but less common in tropical waters than temperate waters, and the arctic and Antarctic oceans
  • Lifespan: 85 to 90 years
  • Threats: Noise from vessels & other underwater noice (which may mask their social sounds) and Chemical Pollution
  • Fin whales have been severely reduced by whaling, which continued in some places until as recently as the 1980s
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Minke whale drawing
  • Average Length: (Adult) 23-33 ft (Newborn) 8-9 ft
  • Average Weight: (Adult) 5-15 tons (Birth) 770 lbs
  • Population: 500,000-1 million (2002 figure)
  • Diet: Fish, krill or other crustaceans
  • Range: All oceans of the world
  • Threats: Target of commercial whaling, accidental capture in fishing gear, pollution
  • Lifespan: probably live for 40 - 50 years, but they are sometimes attacked by killer whales and can be at risk from collisions with boat traffic
  • Minke whales are generally solitary, although they can sometimes be seen in groups of 2 or 3
  • Minke whales are highly inquisitive and are likely to approach boats, especially younger animals
  • The species is still threatened by whaling, which still continues in the N. Atlantic and Antarctic, with an annual take of 500 - 1000 by countries such as Norway, Japan, & Iceland
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Sperm whale drawing
  • Average Length: (Adult) 36-59 ft (Newborn) 11-14 ft
  • Average Weight: (Adult) 20-50 tons (Birth) 1 ton
  • Population: Unknown
  • Diet: Squid, giant squid, octopus and fish
  • Group size: 1-50, hundreds may travel together
  • Range: Tropical to sub-polar deep ocean waters worldwide
  • Threats: Pollution, noise disturbance, caught in nets
  • Sperm whales have the largest heads in the animal kingdom (for males- up to 35 % of the body length)
  • Can dive to depths of 655-985 feet
  • Sperm whales can remain submerged for over 2 hours, but typical dive time is less than 45 minutes
  • Sperm whales have unique wrinkled, prunelike skin
  • The lifespan of sperm whales are thought to be 75 years or more
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Bottlenose whale drawing
  • Average Length: (Adult) 23-29 ft (Newborn) 9- 11 ft
  • Average Weight: (Adult) 5.8-7.5 tons (Birth) unknown
  • Population: Unknown
  • Diet: Mainly squid; also fish & other invertebrates
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pilot whale drawing
  • Average Length: 12.5 - 20 ft
  • Average Weight: 1.8 - 3.5 tons
  • Nicknames: long-finned pilot whale, Blackfish
  • Diet:
  • Range: cold temperate and subpolar waters of all oceans except the North Pacific
  • Population: unknown
  • Pilot whales are one of the most commonly mass-stranded whales
  • Young whales may breach, but this is rare in adults
  • Capable of diving to at least 1,965 ft, but most dives are 100-195 ft

  • Where to Look: over the edge of the continental shelf


right whale image

  • Average Length: (Adult) 36-59 ft (Newborn) 15-20 ft
  • Average Weight: (Adult) 30-80 tons (Birth) 1 ton
  • Population: Northern ~ 300 (2002 figure)
  • Diet: Krill or other crustaceans
  • Threats: Fishing gear entanglements and ship strikes
  • Right whales were originally named by whalers because they were considered the "right" whales to hunt- full of oil and easy to catch
  • Southern Right whales sometimes raise their flukes at right angles to the wind and use them as sails, allowing themselves to be blown along through the water
  • Right whales often breach, sometimes up to 10 times or more in a row
  • The Northern Right whale is the most endangered whale in the ocean; about 300 in the N.Atlantic and possibly a handful in the N. Pacific
  • The Right whale's baleen is ~ 12 inches long!

  • Where to Look (Northern): In the feeding grounds- the lower Bay of Fundy, Canada; Browns Bank, off Nova Scotia, Canada; and Cape Cod Bay, USA. Breeding grounds are off Florida and Georgia, USA
The Right Whale Listening Network

  • Carwardine, Mark Whales Dolphins and Porpoises, DK Publishing, Inc., 1995, 2002
  • Carwardine, Mark and Hoyt, Erich and Fordyce, R. Ewan and Gill, Peter Nature Company Guide: Whales, Dolphins & Porpoises, Time Life Books, 1998
  • Dumont, Jean-Michel and Marion, Remy On the Trail of Whales, Barron's Educational Series, Inc., 1998


*Great* Video- Animal Planet's "Quest: Swimming with Giants"
Call 1-888-404-5969 Order Item# 740688 ($24.90)

"The world's first commercial whale watching occurred in southern California in early 1955, when Chuck Chamberlain, a fisherman from San Diego, put out a sign that said, simply, "See the Whales-- $1."
Source: The Little Guides "Whales Dolphins & Porpoises"

Please consider joining this Care2 group that I belong to ... WHALE CALL CAFE


  • Be patient- even if you only see one whale- it is something you'll never forget!
  • If you get seasick often, take medication or get a patch- it helps!
  • Be prepared to get wet- if you have a "nice" camera- bring something to keep it covered!
  • If you use an underwater disposable camera- to get the best color in your photos, instead of dropping it off at the drug store, take it to a professional camera shop(which means spending more money, but it's worth it!)

   Don't forget to bring the following items:
   XXXXXXXX   A camera & plenty of film
   XXXXXXXX   disposable *waterproof* camera
   XXXXXXXX   binoculars
   XXXXXXXX   waterproof jacket
   XXXXXXXX   sunblock & chapstick
   XXXXXXXX   polarized sunglasses
   XXXXXXXX   hat
   XXXXXXXX   gloves (depending on the location/climate)
   XXXXXXXX   water & snacks



Silver Bank Whale Photos- 1       Silver Bank Whale Photos- 2

Salt Cay 2002 Vacation       Other Whale Adventures/Photos

2007 Blue Whale Watch (Santa Barbara)

San Diego Whale Watching Photos:
2005 season    2006 season




*Note: Reset poll on 4/22/2006

*Note: Reset poll on 4/22/2006
Previously- with 436 votes:
Maui (20%), California (14%), Silver Bank (10%)




Petitions by Change.org|Start a Petition

Whales Revenge- Petition to end whaling

Whale Watching & Snorkeling Links

American Cetacean Society's Blue Whale Watch: Travel to Santa Barbara, CA in July and spend the day on the Condor Express- in search of Blue Whales (and other marine life)!
Aquatic Adventures: Join AA for a Silver Bank (Dominican Republic) Whale Watching experience!
Whale Watching in Samana (D.Republic) site: My friend David's site tells you about the Humpback Whale watching in the Dominican Republic
Silver Bank Whale Watching(D.Republic): Another site that David is working on! Specific information about the Silver Bank Whale Watching experience. He has some great links as well!
Delfin Amor Eco Lodge & Vida Marina Foundation: Travel to Costa Rica to see humpbacks in Drake Bay during their southern migration (July through late October) They have a 99% success rate!
San Diego Hornblower Cruises: See California Grays, dolphins, and other local marine life + a great San Diego Bay tour!
.. whale watching Endorsed by the San Diego Natural History Museum
Vancouver, BC - Prince of Whales: Summertime whale watching to see Orcas and other marine life!
Maui, Hawaii- Ultimate Rafting: One of the best whale watching trips I've been on!
Monterey Bay Whale Watch - California: See California Grays, Humpbacks, Orcas, Minke, Fin and the Mighty Blue Whales - Year round!
ALASKA- Dolphin Jet Boat Tours: I bet you'll see alot of whales.... humpbacks & orcas
Hyannis Whale Watcher Cruises:Whale watching- Sails daily (May through October) from picturesque Barnstable Harbor in historic Barnstable Village, Cape Cod, Massachusetts (1-888-WHALE WATCH)
Whale Watching Holidays: Whale watching holidays in Iceland- from Discover the World

Other places to consider: Baja- Mexico, Alaska, Massachusetts, Washington (Puget Sound & San Juan Island), Tonga, Canada, Australia (Harvey Bay), Argentina, Iceland...


Other *GREAT* Whale Web Sites

Article: Interview with a Whale: Read this amazing article written by Douglas Chadwick
MARINEBIO.ORG: Who's mission is to share the wonders of the ocean to inspire education, research, and a sea ethic... A *MUST SEE* for marine lovers!
Whale Tails Corn Chips: The Corn Chip With A Conscience... whose mission is "promote the understanding and preservation of Whales and the World we all share"
Marine Photobank: Advancing Ocean Conservation Through Imagery
SeaSide Designs: Offers beautiful, creative jewelry with marine themes(& more). I was given a pair of "fluke" earrings as a gift that I love!
Nature Photography by Leo Kulinski, Jr.: Beautiful photographs of whales, wolves, and astronomy- If you sign his guestbook, tell him Leslie sent you!
Rolf Hicker's Nature Photography:Rolf Hicker's nature photography site--- beautiful photos
Rolf Hicker's Whale Photography: Rolf Hicker Photography- Whales, Dolphins & other Marine Mammals
The Ocean World of Wyland: Learn about all the amazing work Wyland has done for marine life.. If you like to read, don't miss out on this book: "Chicken Soup for the Ocean Lover's Soul"
International Fund for Animal Welfare : IFAW's mission is to improve the welfare of wild and domestic animals throughout the world by reducing commercial exploitation of animals, protecting wildlife habitats, and assisting animals in distress. They seek to motivate the public to prevent cruelty to animals and to promote animal welfare and conservation policies that advance the well-being of both animals and people
Ocean Futures: Read about "Free Willy's" Keiko- about his capture, his release into the Norwegian waters and his burial memorial in Norway
American Cetacean Society: Protecting whales, dolphins, porpoises, & their habitats through education, conservation, & research since 1967

Care2.com                 Whale Tails Chips                  foundation for information and research on marine mammals!

The Cetacea web site- the world's whales, dolphins and porpoises all on one site!

The JoJo Dolphin Project
Stop Norweigian whaling


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