Whales are marine mammals that belong to the Order Cetacea. Cetaceans include all whales, dolphins, and porpoises. These species are widely distributed around the globe and are found in all oceans.
Worldwide there are more than 80 species of whales, dolphins, and porpoise divided between two groups or Suborders, Mysticeti and Odontoceti. The Mysticetes include the baleen whales and the Odontocetes the toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises.
Of these large whales, more than half are classified as endangered or vulnerable. Cetaceans face a variety of threats, most of which are a direct result of human activities. For more information see our page about Threats To Whales.
Humpback Whale Facts
The humpback whale reaches lengths up to 60 feet, and weighs between 40 and 50 tons. It has a dark, almost black body with varying degrees of white on the underside of its body and tail fluke.
The enormous pectoral fins of the humpback can reach 15 feet in length and are often used to "slap" the water. They are widely distributed around the globe, wintering in warmer latitudes and feeding in Artic and Antarctic regions during the polar summer months. Learn more facts about humpback whales here.
Orca Whale Facts
Orcas, or killer whales, are not actually whales but the largest member of the dolphin family Delphinidae. They first got their name from sailors who witnessed them attacking large whales. Orcas are live in tight social groups, hunting cooperatively. They can reach lengths of 30 feet and weigh 8 to 9 tons.
Males are larger than females and have an enormous dorsal fin that can stand 6 feet tall when adult. Different populations of orcas have specialized diets, hunting techniques, and dialects in which they communicate with one another which are passed down through generations. Learn more facts about orcas here.
Gray Whale Facts
Gray whales are inhabitants of the North Pacific and are known for their "friendly" behavior towards boats and humans in the warm birthing lagoons of Baja California, Mexico. Gray whales are filter feeders, using baleen (large plates made of keratin which hang from their upper jaw) to strain organisms from the water.
Although gray whales eat some of the ocean's tiniest creatures, they reach lengths of 35-45 feet and weigh 30-40 tons. Their predictable movements and curious nature have made them a favorite for whale watchers. Learn more facts about gray whales here.
What Is SEEtheWILD?
We're a non-profit wildlife conservation travel organization that supports local efforts to protect endangered animals. We work with quality tour operators who have passed our criteria to ensure low environmental impact. We're part of The Ocean Foundation.