Whales are vital species in our ecosystem. Today we will be looking at the different types of whales and what makes them unique.
Each species has its own characteristics, such as baleen which filters food from water, or toothed whales that use echolocation to find their prey.
Keep reading to learn more about the unique types of whales you may encounter in the ocean.
Table of Contents
The Blue Whale is the largest baleen animal on Earth. They can grow up to 100 feet long and weigh up to 300,000 pounds.
In fact, they have hearts that are the same size as a Volkswagen beetle. Believe it or not, they are the loudest animal on Earth.
Blue Whales can make a sound that is up to 188 decibels. That is louder than a jet taking off!
Blue Whales are found all over the world in various oceans. They are a deep blue color and have a long, slender body.
Blue Whales live in the ocean and eat krill primarily. They exist in the Coral Triangle, the Gulf of California, and Southern Chile.
Bryde’s Whales are one of the smallest types of baleen whales. Their bodies are slender and long, and they only grow to be about 50 feet long and weigh around 90,000 pounds.
Bryde’s Whales have a reddish-brown color and a small head. Like the Blue Whale, they can be found in almost every ocean globally, but they prefer warmer waters. Therefore, they primarily exist in the Pacific Ocean near Japan, Korea, and Taiwan.
The most exciting thing about Bryde’s Whales is their mouths. They have between 40 and 70 pleats on their upper lips that help them capture more krill when feeding.
Fin Whales are the second-largest type of whale. They are a part of the baleen whale group and usually grow to be 85 feet long and weigh up to 120,000 pounds. They are typically light gray or blue and have long, slender bodies.
Fin Whales migrate to warmer waters in the winter and cooler waters in the summer. They can be found in Hawaii, California, Alaskan, and the Western North Atlantic.
Right now, they are considered an endangered species due to being an easy target for whale hunting. Fin Whales feed on plankton, krill, and small fish.
Gray Whales are a common type of baleen whale. They can grow up to 45 feet long and weigh up to 90,000 pounds.
They are a light gray color and have a stocky body. You can find Gray Whales in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.
Gray Whales migrate twice a year. In the summer, they go to the Bering Sea to eat and to the Gulf of Mexico in the winter to give birth.
One interesting thing about Gray Whales is their mating ritual which requires three whales. As the male and female whales mate, another male floats under them to hold them together to keep them together as they mate.
The Humpback Whale is another giant baleen whale. They can grow to about 50 feet long and weigh up to 80,000 pounds. They are one of the most easily recognized whales because of the hump on their back.
Humpback Whales are dark gray or black and have white markings on their heads. They also have giant pectoral fins that grow up to 16 feet long.
Humpback Whales tend to migrate and are found in all the world’s oceans. They migrate to warmer waters in the winter and cooler waters in the summer.
Humpback Whales feed on plankton and small fish. They are known for their spectacular singing voices.
Minke Whales are another petite type of baleen whale. They can grow to about 33 feet long and weigh up to 20,000 pounds. They are a light gray or black color and have a small head.
Minke Whales live in all the world’s oceans, but they prefer colder waters. They are the most common type of whale in the North Atlantic.
Minke Whales eat mostly plankton and small fish. They are not very vocal, and humans don’t spot them too often.
However, they make interesting sounds that include grunts, thumps, clicks, and even whistles and boings.
Sei Whales are the third-largest type of baleen whale. They have hundreds of baleen plates that consist of keratin. They usually grow up to 65 feet long and weigh 100,000 pounds.
Sei Whales tend to be dark gray or black and have long, slender bodies. Sei Whales live in the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans.
These whales migrate to the North Atlantic in the summer to eat and to the North Pacific in the winter to give birth.
They are the fastest of all the baleen whales and can reach speeds up to 30 miles per hour. They eat mostly krill.
Sperm Whales are the largest type of toothed whales. They can grow up to 50 feet long and weigh up to 55,000 pounds. They are a dark gray or black color and have a large head.
Sperm Whales live in all the world’s oceans. However, higher populations occur in New England, Alaska, and Pacific Islands.
Sperm Whales migrate to the warmer waters in the winter and the colder waters in the summer. They are usually seen near the surface of the water.
Sperm Whales love to eat squid and use their large heads to dive deep into the ocean to find them.
False Killer Whales
False Killer Whales are a part of the dolphin family. They can grow up to 20 feet long and weigh 3,000 pounds. They are usually black or dark gray and have a long, slender body.
False Killer Whales live in all the world’s oceans. However, they mostly populate in the Pacific Islands, Alaska, Southeast, and West Coast.
One thing that makes them stand out is that people typically report seeing them in groups of 10 to 30.
They are known for their playful behavior and often mimic other animals. False Killer Whales tend to form strong bonds within their groups and work together to hunt for food. These whales eat mostly fish and squid.
Are you ready for this one? Killer Whales are actually the largest type of dolphin. They can grow up to 30 feet long and weigh up to 10,000 pounds and are a black or dark gray color with white patches around their eyes and stomach.
Killer Whales also have large heads. They can be found in New England, Pacific Islands, and the West Coast.
Killer Whales are the only type of whale that hunts other whales. They are known for their aggressive behavior and are the most feared predator in the ocean.
They also work together to find food, making them a triple threat. They eat mainly fish, squid, seals, and walruses when not looking for other whales.
Pilot Whales are another member of the dolphin family. They can grow up to 20 feet long and weigh up to 3,000 pounds. They have long and slender bodies that are black or dark gray.
Pilot Whales exist in all the world’s oceans, but people most commonly see them in Alaska, Pacific Islands, and the Southeast and West Coast.
Pilot Whales are usually in groups of 10 to 30 that include mainly family members. There is usually one male for every eight females as far as mating goes.
Also, males leave their birth school while females remain in the same school their entire lifetime. Pilot Whales eat mostly giant squid.
North Atlantic Right Whales
North Atlantic Right Whales are an endangered baleen whale species. They can grow up to 50 feet long and weigh up to 140,000 pounds. They are also black or dark gray and have large heads.
You can find North Atlantic Right Whales in the England Mid Atlantic Ocean. They are another whale that moves to warmer waters in the winter and colder waters in the summer.
However, they are usually found near the surface of the water. These gigantic slow swimmers eat mostly plankton.
One interesting fact about them is that they communicate threats and signals of aggression with each other.
Beluga Whales are toothed whales that grow up to 16 feet long and weigh up to 3,200 pounds. They are a greyish white color and have a rounded head.
These whales are very social and mostly travel in groups of 10 to 30. They are also very playful and have been known to mimic other animals, including humans.
They eat mainly fish, squid, crabs, shrimp, clams, snails, and sandworms. They are commonly referred to as the canary of the sea because of all the sounds they can make.
Bowhead Whales can typically grow up to 60 feet long and weigh up to 200,000 pounds. Another member of the baleen whale family, these whales have a distinctive large head to break through ice. In addition, their skulls can be over 16 feet long and have an almost 20-inch blubber layer.
The Bowhead Whale is black or dark gray and exists in the Arctic Ocean, Alaska, and the Bering Sea.
Bowhead whales are the longest living mammal on Earth and can live to be up to 200 years old.
Interesting, though, is that the only whale that doesn’t have a dorsal fin. Bowhead Whales primarily eat krill and copepod.
Narwhal Whales are toothed whales that can grow up to 16 feet long and weigh up to 2,000 pounds.
They are dark gray or black and have long, slender bodies. Narwhal Whales exist in habitats that are primarily dark and covered in ice.
The interesting thing about them is that though they are toothed whales, they don’t have teeth in their mouths. Instead, they have a tusk that comes out of the upper jaw.
Narwhal Whales are usually found alone or in pairs. They are curious animals and often come up to boats and people for a closer look. Narwhal Whales eat mainly fish, cod, shrimp, and squid.
Omura’s Whale can grow up to 33 feet long and weigh up to 4,000 pounds. They are a light gray or cream color and have a slender body, and they are the smallest type of baleen whale. They live in Madagascar and do not migrate to other regions.
Omura’s Whales can be found in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. They are usually found in groups of 10 to 30.
More interesting is that they are very shy whales and have been known to hide when boats come too close. Omura’s Whales eat primarily small fish, herring, krill, and mackerel.