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Whale Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Diane Sieverson

Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.

There are many different kinds of whales that live in the ocean. Come learn about the two main kinds of whales, how big they can get, what they like to eat and some other cool facts about these animals.

What is a Whale?

Imagine you are sailing in the ocean, when suddenly, out of nowhere, a huge animal leaps out of the water and splashes back down! You are so excited and hope it happens again so you can take a picture and prove to your friends that you saw a whale!

A whale is a large mammal that lives in the ocean. Mammals are warm-blooded animals that have babies who drink their mother's milk to survive. Mammals also have hair, and whales are no exception. When they are born, whales have small hairs on the end of their snout, but most lose it as they get bigger.

Just like you, whales have lungs and breathe air, but they breathe through the blowholes at the top of their head instead of a nose. They snooze, but can't nap for too long because they have to come up for air, the way you do when you swim.

Breaching Whale
Breaching Whale

Whales are found in every ocean, and most whales breach, or jump out of the water, but scientists aren't sure why. Some think it helps them get rid of annoying critters that hang on to their skin, some think it's to make noise and let other whales know where they are, and others think it's just fun, the way you run and jump on the playground!

Toothed Whales

Toothed whales are one of two whale groups, and only have one blowhole. They have teeth and hunt for their food when they get bigger. Some of their favorite snacks include fish, octopus, sharks, penguins, seals, other whales, and dolphins.

These kinds of whales use sound waves to find food, stay safe from enemies and find their way around in dark water. They are like the bats of the ocean.

Some whales in this group are beluga whales, narwhal whales, and dwarf sperm whales, which are the smallest whales on Earth. They can grow to be about nine feet long and weigh as much as 600 pounds, which is about half of what an adult cow weighs.

Baleen Whales

Baleen whales are the second of the two whale groups, and have two blowholes. They got their name from the baleen plates in their mouth, which are made of the same thing your fingernails are made of, but thicker. The ends of these baleen look like fringed feathers and help the whale catch its food.

Feathery Baleen Plates
Feathery Baleen Plates

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