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Whale

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Whale is the common name for various marine mammal
Marine mammal
Marine mammals, which include seals, whales, dolphins, and walruses, form a diverse group of 128 species that rely on the ocean for their existence. They do not represent a distinct biological grouping, but rather are unified by their reliance on the marine environment for feeding. The level of...

s of the order Cetacea
Cetacea
The order Cetacea includes the marine mammals commonly known as whales, dolphins, and porpoises. Cetus is Latin and is used in biological names to mean "whale"; its original meaning, "large sea animal", was more general. It comes from Ancient Greek , meaning "whale" or "any huge fish or sea...

. The term whale sometimes refers to all cetaceans, but more often it excludes dolphin
Dolphin
Dolphins are marine mammals that are closely related to whales and porpoises. There are almost forty species of dolphin in 17 genera. They vary in size from and , up to and . They are found worldwide, mostly in the shallower seas of the continental shelves, and are carnivores, mostly eating...

s and porpoise
Porpoise
Porpoises are small cetaceans of the family Phocoenidae; they are related to whales and dolphins. They are distinct from dolphins, although the word "porpoise" has been used to refer to any small dolphin, especially by sailors and fishermen...

s, which belong to suborder Odontoceti (toothed whale
Toothed whale
The toothed whales form a suborder of the cetaceans, including sperm whales, beaked whales, dolphins, and others. As the name suggests, the suborder is characterized by the presence of teeth rather than the baleen of other whales.-Anatomy:Toothed whales have a single blowhole on the top of the head...

s). This suborder also includes the sperm whale
Sperm Whale
The sperm whale, Physeter macrocephalus, is a marine mammal species, order Cetacea, a toothed whale having the largest brain of any animal. The name comes from the milky-white waxy substance, spermaceti, found in the animal's head. The sperm whale is the only living member of genus Physeter...

, killer whale, pilot whale
Pilot whale
Pilot whales are cetaceans belonging to the genus Globicephala. There are two extant species, the long-finned pilot whale and the short-finned pilot whale . The two are not readily distinguished at sea and analysis of the skulls is the best way to tell the difference between them...

, and beluga whale. The other Cetacean suborder Mysticeti (baleen whale
Baleen whale
The Baleen whales, also called whalebone whales or great whales, form the Mysticeti, one of two suborders of the Cetacea . Baleen whales are characterized by having baleen plates for filtering food from water, rather than having teeth. This distinguishes them from the other suborder of cetaceans,...

s) are filter feeder
Filter feeder
Filter feeders are animals that feed by straining suspended matter and food particles from water, typically by passing the water over a specialized filtering structure. Some animals that use this method of feeding are clams, krill, sponges, baleen whales, and many fish and some sharks. Some birds,...

s that eat small organisms caught by straining seawater through a comblike structure found in the mouth called baleen
Baleen
Baleen or whalebone is a filter-feeder system inside the mouths of baleen whales. The baleen system works when a whale opens its mouth underwater and then water pours into the whale's mouth. The whale then pushes the water out, and animals such as krill are filtered by the baleen and remain as food...

. This suborder includes the blue whale
Blue Whale
The blue whale is a marine mammal belonging to the suborder of baleen whales . At in length and or more in weight, it is the largest known animal to have ever existed....

, the humpback whale
Humpback Whale
The humpback whale is a species of baleen whale. One of the larger rorqual species, adults range in length from and weigh approximately . The humpback has a distinctive body shape, with unusually long pectoral fins and a knobbly head. It is an acrobatic animal, often breaching and slapping the...

, the bowhead whale
Bowhead Whale
The bowhead whale is a baleen whale of the right whale family Balaenidae in suborder Mysticeti. A stocky dark-colored whale without a dorsal fin, it can grow to in length. This thick-bodied species can weigh to , second only to the blue whale, although the bowhead's maximum length is less than...

 and the minke whale
Minke Whale
Minke whale , or lesser rorqual, is a name given to two species of marine mammal belonging to a clade within the suborder of baleen whales. The minke whale was given its official designation by Lacepède in 1804, who described a dwarf form of Balænoptera acuto-rostrata...

. All Cetacea have forelimbs modified as fins, a tail with horizontal flukes, and nasal openings (blowholes) on top of the head.

Whales range in size from the blue whale, the largest animal known to have ever existed at 35 m (114.8 ft) and 136 tonnes (133.9 LT), to various pygmy species, such as the pygmy sperm whale
Pygmy Sperm Whale
The Pygmy Sperm Whale is one of three species of toothed whale in the sperm whale family. They are not often sighted at sea, and most of what is known about them comes from the examination of stranded specimens.-Taxonomy:...

 at 3.5 m (11.5 ft).

Whales collectively inhabit all the world's oceans and number in the millions, with annual population growth rate estimates for various species ranging from 3% to 13%.
For centuries, whales have been hunted for meat and as a source of raw materials. By the middle of the 20th century, however, industrial whaling had left many species seriously endangered, leading to the end of whaling in all but a few countries.

Taxonomy


Cetaceans are divided into two suborders:
  • The largest suborder, Mysticeti (baleen whales) are characterized by baleen, a sieve-like structure in the upper jaw made of keratin
    Keratin
    Keratin refers to a family of fibrous structural proteins. Keratin is the key of structural material making up the outer layer of human skin. It is also the key structural component of hair and nails...

    , which it uses to filter plankton
    Plankton
    Plankton are any drifting organisms that inhabit the pelagic zone of oceans, seas, or bodies of fresh water. That is, plankton are defined by their ecological niche rather than phylogenetic or taxonomic classification...

     from the water.
  • Odontoceti (toothed whales) bear sharp teeth for hunting. Odontoceti also include dolphins and porpoises.


Both cetaceans and artiodactyl are now classified under the super-order Cetartiodactyla
Cetartiodactyla
Cetartiodactyla is the clade in which whales and even-toed ungulates have currently been placed. The term was coined by merging the name for the two orders, Cetacea and Artiodactyla, into a single word. The term Cetartiodactyla reflects the idea that whales evolved within the artiodactyls...

 which includes both whales and hippopotamuses. Whales are the hippopotamus's closest living relatives.

Evolution




All cetaceans, including whales, dolphins and porpoises, are descendants of land-living mammals of the Artiodactyl order
Order (biology)
In scientific classification used in biology, the order is# a taxonomic rank used in the classification of organisms. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, family, genus, and species, with order fitting in between class and family...

 (even-toed ungulate
Ungulate
Ungulates are several groups of mammals, most of which use the tips of their toes, usually hoofed, to sustain their whole body weight while moving. They make up several orders of mammals, of which six to eight survive...

s). Both are related to the Indohyus
Indohyus
Indohyus is a genus of extinct artiodactyl known from Eocene fossils in Asia, purported to be approximately 48 million years old. A December 2007 article in Nature by Thewissen et al. used an exceptionally complete skeleton of Indohyus from Kashmir to indicate that raoellids may be the "missing...

 (an extinct semi-aquatic deer-like ungulate) from which they split around 54 million years ago.
Primitive whales probably first took to the sea about 50 million years ago and became fully aquatic about 5–10 million years later.

Anatomy


Like all mammals, whales breathe air, are warm-blooded
Warm-blooded
The term warm-blooded is a colloquial term to describe animal species which have a relatively higher blood temperature, and maintain thermal homeostasis primarily through internal metabolic processes...

, nurse their young with milk from mammary gland
Mammary gland
A mammary gland is an organ in mammals that produces milk to feed young offspring. Mammals get their name from the word "mammary". In ruminants such as cows, goats, and deer, the mammary glands are contained in their udders...

s, and have body hair.

Beneath the skin lies a layer of fat called blubber
Blubber
Blubber is a thick layer of vascularized adipose tissue found under the skin of all cetaceans, pinnipeds and sirenians.-Description:Lipid-rich, collagen fiber–laced blubber comprises the hypodermis and covers the whole body, except for parts of the appendages, strongly attached to the musculature...

, which stores energy and insulates
Thermal insulation
Thermal insulation is the reduction of the effects of the various processes of heat transfer between objects in thermal contact or in range of radiative influence. Heat transfer is the transfer of thermal energy between objects of differing temperature...

 the body. Whales have a spinal column, a vestigial
Vestigial structure
Vestigiality describes homologous characters of organisms that have seemingly lost all or most of their original function in a species through evolution. These may take various forms such as anatomical structures, behaviors and biochemical pathways. Some of these disappear early in embryonic...

 pelvic bone, and a four-chambered heart. The neck vertebrae are typically fused, trading flexibility for stability during swimming.

Blowhole(s)



Whales breathe via blowholes
Blowhole (biology)
In biology, a blowhole is the hole at the top of a cetacean's head through which the animal breathes air. It is homologous with the nostril of other mammals. As whales reach the water surface to breathe, they will forcefully expel air through the blowhole. Not only is air expelled, but mucus and...

; baleen whales have two and toothed whales have one. These are located on the top of the head, allowing the animal to remain mostly submerged whilst breathing. Breathing involves expelling excess water from the blowhole, forming an upward spout, followed by inhaling air into the lungs. Spout shapes differ among species and can help with identification.

Appendages


The body shape is fusiform and the modified forelimbs, or fins, are paddle-shaped. The end of the tail is composed of two flukes, which propel the animal by vertical movement, as opposed to the horizontal movement of a fish tail. Although whales do not possess fully developed hind limbs, some (such as sperm whale
Sperm Whale
The sperm whale, Physeter macrocephalus, is a marine mammal species, order Cetacea, a toothed whale having the largest brain of any animal. The name comes from the milky-white waxy substance, spermaceti, found in the animal's head. The sperm whale is the only living member of genus Physeter...

s and baleen whales) possess discrete rudimentary appendages, which may even have feet and digits. Most species have a dorsal fin
Dorsal fin
A dorsal fin is a fin located on the backs of various unrelated marine and freshwater vertebrates, including most fishes, marine mammals , and the ichthyosaurs...

.

Dentition


Toothed whales, such as the sperm whale, possess teeth with cementum
Cementum
Cementum is a specialized calcified substance covering the root of a tooth. Cementum is excreted by cells called cementoblasts within the root of the tooth and is thickest at the root apex. These cementoblasts develop from undifferentiated mesenchymal cells in the connective tissue of the dental...

 cells overlying dentine cells. Unlike human teeth, which are composed mostly of enamel
Tooth enamel
Tooth enamel, along with dentin, cementum, and dental pulp is one of the four major tissues that make up the tooth in vertebrates. It is the hardest and most highly mineralized substance in the human body. Tooth enamel is also found in the dermal denticles of sharks...

 on the portion of the tooth outside of the gum, whale teeth have cementum outside the gum. Only in larger whales, where the cementum has been worn away on the tip of the tooth, does enamel show.

Instead of teeth, Baleen whales have a row of plates on the upper side of their jaws that resemble the "teeth" of a comb.

Ears


The whale ear has specific adaptations to the marine
Marine (ocean)
Marine is an umbrella term. As an adjective it is usually applicable to things relating to the sea or ocean, such as marine biology, marine ecology and marine geology...

 environment. In humans, the middle ear
Middle ear
The middle ear is the portion of the ear internal to the eardrum, and external to the oval window of the cochlea. The mammalian middle ear contains three ossicles, which couple vibration of the eardrum into waves in the fluid and membranes of the inner ear. The hollow space of the middle ear has...

 works as an impedance matcher between the outside air’s low impedance
Acoustic impedance
The acoustic impedance at a particular frequency indicates how much sound pressure is generated by a given air vibration at that frequency. The acoustic impedance Z is frequency dependent and is very useful, for example, for describing the behaviour of musical wind instruments...

 and the cochlea
Cochlea
The cochlea is the auditory portion of the inner ear. It is a spiral-shaped cavity in the bony labyrinth, making 2.5 turns around its axis, the modiolus....

r fluid’s high impedance. In aquatic mammals such as whales, however, there is no great difference between the outer and inner environments. Instead of sound passing through the outer ear to the middle ear, whales receive sound through the throat, from which it passes through a low-impedance fat-filled cavity to the inner ear. The whale ear is acoustically isolated from the skull by air-filled sinus pockets, which allow for greater directional hearing underwater.

Reproduction


Males are called 'bulls', females, 'cows' and newborns, 'calves'.
Most species do not maintain fixed partnerships and females have several mates each season.

The female delivers usually a single calf tail-first to minimize the risk of drowning. Whale cows nurse by actively squirting milk, so fatty that it has the consistency of toothpaste, into the mouths of their young. Nursing continues for more than a year in many species, and is associated with a strong bond between mother and calf. Reproductive maturity occurs typically at seven to ten years. This mode of reproduction produces few offspring, but increases survival probability.

Socialization


Whales are known to teach, learn, cooperate, scheme, and even grieve. The neocortex of many species of whale is home to elongated spindle neurons that, prior to 2007, were known only in hominids. In humans these cells are involved in social conduct, emotions, judgment, and theory of mind. Whale spindle neurons are found in areas of the brain homologous to where they are found in humans, suggesting that they perform a similar function.

Sleep



Unlike most animals, whales are conscious breathers. All mammals sleep, but whales cannot afford to become unconscious for long because they may drown. It is thought that only one hemisphere of the whale's brain sleeps at a time, so they rest but are never completely asleep.

Surfacing behavior



Many whales exhibit behaviors such as breaching and tail slapping that expose large parts of their bodies to the air.

Lifespan


Whale lifespans vary among species and are not well characterized. Whaling left few older individuals to observe directly. R.M. Nowak of Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins University
The Johns Hopkins University, commonly referred to as Johns Hopkins, JHU, or simply Hopkins, is a private research university based in Baltimore, Maryland, United States...

 estimated that humpback whales may live as long as 77 years. In 2007, a 19th century lance fragment was found in a bowhead whale
Bowhead Whale
The bowhead whale is a baleen whale of the right whale family Balaenidae in suborder Mysticeti. A stocky dark-colored whale without a dorsal fin, it can grow to in length. This thick-bodied species can weigh to , second only to the blue whale, although the bowhead's maximum length is less than...

 off Alaska, suggesting the individual could be between 115 and 130 years old. Aspartic acid
Aspartic acid
Aspartic acid is an α-amino acid with the chemical formula HOOCCHCH2COOH. The carboxylate anion, salt, or ester of aspartic acid is known as aspartate. The L-isomer of aspartate is one of the 20 proteinogenic amino acids, i.e., the building blocks of proteins...

 racemization
Racemization
In chemistry, racemization refers to the converting of an enantiomerically pure mixture into a mixture where more than one of the enantiomers are present...

 in the whale eye, combined with a harpoon fragment, indicated an age of 211 years for another male, which, if true would make bowheads the longest-lived extant mammal species.
The accuracy of this technique has been questioned because racemization did not correlate well with other dating methods.

Vocalization


Some species, such as the humpback whale, communicate using melodic sounds, known as whale song
Whale song
Whale sounds are the sounds made by whales and which are used for different kinds of communication.The word "song" is used to describe the pattern of regular and predictable sounds made by some species of whales, notably the Humpback Whale...

. These sounds can be extremely loud, depending on the species. Sperm whales have only been heard making clicks, while toothed whales (Odontoceti) use echolocation
Animal echolocation
Echolocation, also called biosonar, is the biological sonar used by several kinds of animals.Echolocating animals emit calls out to the environment and listen to the echoes of those calls that return from various objects near them. They use these echoes to locate and identify the objects...

 that can generate about 20,000 watts of sound (+73 dBm
DBm
dBm is an abbreviation for the power ratio in decibels of the measured power referenced to one milliwatt . It is used in radio, microwave and fiber optic networks as a convenient measure of absolute power because of its capability to express both very large and very small values in a short form...

 or +43 dBw) and be heard for many miles. Whale vocalization is likely to serve many purposes, including echolocation
Animal echolocation
Echolocation, also called biosonar, is the biological sonar used by several kinds of animals.Echolocating animals emit calls out to the environment and listen to the echoes of those calls that return from various objects near them. They use these echoes to locate and identify the objects...

, mating, and identification.

Feeding


Whales are generally classed as predators, but their food ranges from microscopic plankton
Plankton
Plankton are any drifting organisms that inhabit the pelagic zone of oceans, seas, or bodies of fresh water. That is, plankton are defined by their ecological niche rather than phylogenetic or taxonomic classification...

 to very large animals.

Toothed whales eat fish and squid which they hunt by use of echolocation
Animal echolocation
Echolocation, also called biosonar, is the biological sonar used by several kinds of animals.Echolocating animals emit calls out to the environment and listen to the echoes of those calls that return from various objects near them. They use these echoes to locate and identify the objects...

. Orcas sometimes eat other marine mammals, including whales.

Baleen whales such as humpbacks and blues feed only in arctic waters, eating mostly krill
Krill
Krill is the common name given to the order Euphausiacea of shrimp-like marine crustaceans. Also known as euphausiids, these small invertebrates are found in all oceans of the world...

. They imbibe enormous amounts of seawater which they expel through their baleen plates. The water is then expelled and the krill is retained on the plates and then swallowed. Whales do not drink seawater but indirectly extract water from their food by metabolizing fat.

Whale pump


A recent discovery of a positive influence on the productivity of ocean fisheries has been attributed to whales in what has been termed a "whale pump." Whales carry nutrients such as nitrogen from the depths back to the surface. This functions as an upward biological pump, reversing the assumption of some scientists that whales accelerate the loss of nutrients to the bottom. They note that this nitrogen input in the Gulf of Maine is "more than the input of all rivers combined," some 23,000 metric tons each year."

Whaling





Some species of large whales are listed as endangered by multinational organizations such as CITES along with governments and advocacy group
Advocacy group
Advocacy groups use various forms of advocacy to influence public opinion and/or policy; they have played and continue to play an important part in the development of political and social systems...

s primarily due to whaling's impacts. They have been hunted commercially for whale oil
Whale oil
Whale oil is the oil obtained from the blubber of various species of whales, particularly the three species of right whale and the bowhead whale prior to the modern era, as well as several other species of baleen whale...

, meat, baleen and ambergris
Ambergris
Ambergris is a solid, waxy, flammable substance of a dull gray or blackish color produced in the digestive system of and regurgitated or secreted by sperm whales....

 (a perfume ingredient from the intestine of sperm whales) since the 17th century. At its peak in 1846, the American whaling industry employed more than 70,000 people and 736 vessels. More than 2 million were taken in the early 20th century, and by the middle of the century, many populations were severely depleted.

The International Whaling Commission
International Whaling Commission
The International Whaling Commission is an international body set up by the terms of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling , which was signed in Washington, D.C...

 banned commercial whaling in 1986. The ban is not absolute, however, and some whaling continues under the auspices of scientific research (sometimes not proved) or aboriginal rights
Aboriginal whaling
Aboriginal whaling is the hunting of whales carried out by aboriginal groups who have a tradition of whaling....

; current whaling nations are Norway, Iceland and Japan and the aboriginal communities of Siberia, Alaska and northern Canada.

Bycatch


Several species of small whales are caught as bycatch
Bycatch
The term “bycatch” is usually used for fish caught unintentionally in a fishery while intending to catch other fish. It may however also indicate untargeted catch in other forms of animal harvesting or collecting...

 in fisheries for other species. In the Eastern Tropical Pacific tuna fishery, thousands of dolphins drowned in purse-seine nets, until preventive measures were introduced. Gear and deployment modifications, and eco-labelling (dolphin-safe or dolphin-friendly brands of tuna), have contributed to a reduction in dolphin mortality by tuna vessels.

Naval sonar



Environmentalists speculate that advanced naval sonar
Sonar
Sonar is a technique that uses sound propagation to navigate, communicate with or detect other vessels...

 endangers some cetaceans, including whales. In 2003 British and Spanish scientists suggested in Nature
Nature (journal)
Nature, first published on 4 November 1869, is ranked the world's most cited interdisciplinary scientific journal by the Science Edition of the 2010 Journal Citation Reports...

that the effects of sonar trigger whale beachings and to signs that such whales have experienced decompression sickness. Responses in Nature the following year discounted the explanation.

Mass beachings occur in many species, mostly beaked whale
Beaked whale
Beaked whales are 21 species of toothed whales, members of the family Ziphiidae, are notable for their elongated beaks. Beaked whales are one of the world's most extreme divers. They can dive for long periods—20 to 30 minutes is common, and 85 minute dives have been recorded—and to...

s that use echolocation for deep diving. The frequency and size of beachings around the world, recorded over the last 1,000 years in religious tracts and more recently in scientific surveys, have been used to estimate the population of various whale species by assuming that the proportion of the total whale population beaching in any one year is constant. Beached whales can give other clues about population conditions, especially health problems. For example, bleeding around ears, internal lesions, and nitrogen bubbles in organ tissue suggest decompression sickness.

Following public concern, the U.S. Defense department was ordered by the 9th Circuit Court to strictly limit use of its Low Frequency Active Sonar during peacetime. Attempts by the UK-based Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society
Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society
the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society is a wildlife charity that is dedicated solely to the worldwide conservation and welfare of all whales, dolphins and porpoises...

 to obtain a public inquiry into the possible dangers of the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

's equivalent (the "2087
Sonar 2087
Sonar 2087 is a towed array sonar system for Royal Navy Type 23 frigates manufactured by Thales Underwater Systems.Sonar 2087 has replaced the Sonar 2031 towed array. The introduction of this advanced new Sonar has significantly enhanced the anti submarine warfare capability of the Royal Navy...

" sonar launched in December 2004) failed as of 2008. The European Parliament has requested that EU members refrain from using the powerful sonar system until an environmental impact study has been carried out.

Other environmental disturbances



Other human activities have been suggested by marine biologists to adversely impact whale populations, such as collisions with ships and propellers, poisoning by waste contaminants and the unregulated use of fishing gear that catches anything that swims into it.

In mythology


Whales were little understood for most of human history as they spend up to 90% of the lives underwater, only surfacing briefly to breathe. They also include the largest animals on the planet, so it is not surprising that many cultures, even those that have hunted them, hold them in awe and feature them in their mythologies.

In China, Yu-kiang, a whale with the hands and feet of a man was said to rule the ocean.

In the Tyrol region of Austria it was said that if a sunbeam were to fall on a maiden entering womanhood, she would be carried away in the belly of a whale.

Paikea
Paikea
According to Māori tradition, Paikea is an ancestor of Ngāti Porou, a Māori tribe of the east coast of New Zealand's North Island. Paikea is the name assumed by Kahutia-te-rangi because he was assisted by humpback whales to survive an attempt on his life by his half-brother Ruatapu.-Ruatapu is...

, the youngest and favourite son of the chief Uenuku from the island of Mangaia
Mangaia
Mangaia is the most southerly of the Cook Islands and the second largest, after Rarotonga.-Geography:...

 in the present day Cook Islands
Cook Islands
The Cook Islands is a self-governing parliamentary democracy in the South Pacific Ocean in free association with New Zealand...

 in New Zealand was said by the Kati Kuri people of Kaikoura
Kaikoura
Kaikoura is a town on the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand. It is located on State Highway 1 180 km north of Christchurch.Kaikoura became the first local authority to reach the Green Globe tourism certification standard....

 to have come from the Pacific Islands on the back of a whale many centuries before. The novel and movie Whale Rider follow the trials of a girl named Paikia, who lives in such a culture.

The whale features in Inuit
Inuit
The Inuit are a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic regions of Canada , Denmark , Russia and the United States . Inuit means “the people” in the Inuktitut language...

 creation myths. When ‘Big Raven', a deity in human form, found a stranded whale, he was told by the Great Spirit
Great Spirit
The Great Spirit, also called Wakan Tanka among the Sioux, the Creator or the Great Maker in English, and Gitchi Manitou in Algonquian, is a conception of a supreme being prevalent among some Native American and First Nations cultures...

 where to find special mushrooms that would give him the strength to drag the whale back to the sea and thus return order to the world.

The Tlingit people of northern Canada said that the Orcas were created when the hunter Natsihlane carved eight fish from yellow cedar, sang his most powerful spirit song and commanded the fish to leap into the water.

In Icelandic legend a man threw a stone at a fin whale
Fin Whale
The fin whale , also called the finback whale, razorback, or common rorqual, is a marine mammal belonging to the suborder of baleen whales. It is the second longest whale and the sixth largest living animal after the blue whale, bowhead whale, and right whales, growing to nearly 27 metres long...

 and hit the blowhole, causing the whale to burst. The man was told not to go to sea for twenty years but in the nineteenth year he went fishing and a whale came and killed him.

In East African legend King Sulemani asked God that He might permit him to feed all the beings on earth. A whale came and ate until there was no corn left and then told Sulemani that he was still hungry and that there were 70,000 more in his tribe. Sulemani then prayed to God for forgiveness and thanked the creature for teaching him a lesson in humility.

Some cultures associate divinity
Divinity
Divinity and divine are broadly applied but loosely defined terms, used variously within different faiths and belief systems — and even by different individuals within a given faith — to refer to some transcendent or transcendental power or deity, or its attributes or manifestations in...

 with whales, such as among Ghanaians and Vietnamese, who occasionally hold funerals for beached whales, a throwback to Vietnam's ancient sea-based Austro-asiatic culture. The whale is a revered creature to Vietnamese fishermen. They are respectfully addressed as "Lord". If one finds a stranded whale corpse, one is in charge of holding the funeral for the "Lord" as if it was one's own parent.

The story of Jonah
Jonah
Jonah is the name given in the Hebrew Bible to a prophet of the northern kingdom of Israel in about the 8th century BC, the eponymous central character in the Book of Jonah, famous for being swallowed by a fish or a whale, depending on translation...

 being swallowed by a whale also is told in the Qur'an.

Whales in the Bible


The Bible, 1611 Authorized Version, expressly mentions whales four times:
  • Genesis 1:21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
  • Job
    Job (Biblical figure)
    Job is the central character of the Book of Job in the Hebrew Bible. Job is listed as a prophet of God in the Qur'an.- Book of Job :The Book of Job begins with an introduction to Job's character — he is described as a blessed man who lives righteously...

     7:12 Am I a sea, or a whale, that thou settest a watch over me?
  • Ezekiel
    Ezekiel
    Ezekiel , "God will strengthen" , is the central protagonist of the Book of Ezekiel in the Hebrew Bible. In Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Ezekiel is acknowledged as a Hebrew prophet...

     32:2 Son of man, take up a lamentation for Pharaoh king of Egypt, and say unto him, Thou art like a young lion of the nations, and thou art as a whale in the seas: and thou camest forth with thy rivers, and troubledst the waters with thy feet, and fouledst their rivers.
  • Matthew
    Gospel of Matthew
    The Gospel According to Matthew is one of the four canonical gospels, one of the three synoptic gospels, and the first book of the New Testament. It tells of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth...

     12:40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.


The translators in that latter verse above thereby identified the "great fish" of the book of Jonah
Jonah
Jonah is the name given in the Hebrew Bible to a prophet of the northern kingdom of Israel in about the 8th century BC, the eponymous central character in the Book of Jonah, famous for being swallowed by a fish or a whale, depending on translation...

 as a whale. It is apparent that Jeremiah
Jeremiah
Jeremiah Hebrew:יִרְמְיָה , Modern Hebrew:Yirməyāhū, IPA: jirməˈjaːhu, Tiberian:Yirmĭyahu, Greek:Ἰερεμίας), meaning "Yahweh exalts", or called the "Weeping prophet" was one of the main prophets of the Hebrew Bible...

 recognized that some great fish are mammals. The English word "monster
Monster (disambiguation)
A monster is a fearsome creature.Monster may also refer to:-Film:* The Monster , an American silent film* The Monster , an Italian comedy* Monster , a 2003 American biographical crime drama...

", (used in the ordinary sense of a "huge animal",) is used in the Bible in Jeremiah's Lamentations
Book of Lamentations
The Book of Lamentations ) is a poetic book of the Hebrew Bible composed by the Jewish prophet Jeremiah. It mourns the destruction of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple in the 6th Century BCE....

 to refer to whales:
  • Lamentations 4:3 Even the sea monsters draw out the breast, they give suck to their young ones: the daughter of my people is become cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness.

See also


  • Atlantic Whale Foundation
    Atlantic Whale Foundation
    The Atlantic Whale Foundation, is a conservation charity founded in London, England and based in Arona, Tenerife. Its motto is "The responsibility to defend nature belongs to each of us – as individuals"....

  • Baleen whale
    Baleen whale
    The Baleen whales, also called whalebone whales or great whales, form the Mysticeti, one of two suborders of the Cetacea . Baleen whales are characterized by having baleen plates for filtering food from water, rather than having teeth. This distinguishes them from the other suborder of cetaceans,...

  • Beached whale
    Beached whale
    A beached whale is a whale that has stranded itself on land, usually on a beach. Beached whales often die due to dehydration, the body collapsing under its own weight, or drowning when high tide covers the blowhole.-Species:...

  • Cetacea
    Cetacea
    The order Cetacea includes the marine mammals commonly known as whales, dolphins, and porpoises. Cetus is Latin and is used in biological names to mean "whale"; its original meaning, "large sea animal", was more general. It comes from Ancient Greek , meaning "whale" or "any huge fish or sea...

  • Cetacean bycatch
    Cetacean bycatch
    Cetacean bycatch is the incidental capture of non-target cetacean species by fisheries. Species which are seriously affected by this include dolphins, porpoises, and whales. Bycatch can be caused by entanglement in fishing nets and lines, or direct capture by hooks or in trawl nets.Cetacean bycatch...

  • Cetacean Conservation Center
    Cetacean Conservation Center
    The Cetacean Conservation Center is a Chilean NGO dedicated to the conservation of cetaceans and other marine mammals that inhabit the coastal waters of Chile...

  • Cetacean intelligence
    Cetacean intelligence
    Cetacean intelligence denotes the cognitive capabilities of the Cetacea order of mammals, which includes whales, porpoises, and dolphins.-Brain size:...

  • List of cetaceans
  • List of dolphin species
  • List of extinct cetaceans
  • List of porpoise species
  • Toothed whale
    Toothed whale
    The toothed whales form a suborder of the cetaceans, including sperm whales, beaked whales, dolphins, and others. As the name suggests, the suborder is characterized by the presence of teeth rather than the baleen of other whales.-Anatomy:Toothed whales have a single blowhole on the top of the head...

  • Vocal learning
    Vocal learning
    Vocal learning is the ability of animals to modify vocal signals in form as a result of experience with those of other individuals. This can lead to signals that are either similar or dissimilar to the model...

  • Whale fall
    Whale fall
    Whale fall is the term used for a whale carcass that has fallen to the ocean floor. Whale falls were first observed in the 1980s, with the advent of deep-sea robotic exploration....

  • Whale meat
    Whale meat
    Whale meat is the flesh of whales used for consumption by humans or other animals. It is prepared in various ways, and is historically part of the diet and cuisine of various communities that live near an ocean, including those of Japan, Norway, Iceland, and the Arctic...

  • Whale watching
    Whale watching
    Whale watching is the practice of observing whales and other cetaceans in their natural habitat. Whales are watched most commonly for recreation but the activity can also serve scientific or educational purposes. A 2009 study, prepared for IFAW, estimated that 13 million people went whale watching...



External links