Salty Sam’s Fun Blog for Children
l expect if l asked you what the biggest animal in the world is, you would know that it is a whale. Whales live in the ocean where the water supports their enormous weight, but they do need to come to the surface to breathe through the blowhole at the top of their heads. This is unlike the way that fish breathe; fish take their oxygen from water.
When you learn about how whales live, you realize how different sea creatures are from land creatures, but of course this makes a lot of sense when you think about how their environment is so different from ours.
l do see whales around my lighthouse home, and they are beautiful creatures to watch. They are found in all the world’s oceans and have been around for many millions of years. They are really amazing animals and so l thought l would tell you all about them this week…
Whales need to come to the surface when they know they need another breath. lt is thought that half of their brain goes to sleep at a time so that they can be conscious enough to come up to the surface to breathe; this allows them to sleep for eight hours a day.
They are warm-blooded and feed milk to their babies. A baby whale is called a calf. lt is thought that some whales can live for more than a hundred years.
Whales have a layer of blubber under their skin and a layer of fat under that to keep them warm in the low temperatures of the lower depths of the sea. Their bodies are especially adapted in many ways to cope with the high pressure of deep sea diving.
There are two types of whale; baleen and toothed whales.
Baleen whales are the biggest species. They have a comb-like fringe on their upper jaw which is used to filter plankton from the water they swim in. The baleen is made from keratin; your nails and hair contain keratin. They take water into their mouths then squirt it out through their baleen leaving the food in their mouth to be swallowed and digested.
Baleen whales have two blowholes.
There are ten species of baleen whale. Most are listed as endangered or protected species.
The toothed whales eat fish and other marine mammals. They usually swallow their prey whole.
They often have big foreheads. lnside is a large chamber where they can make sounds so loud they can shock fish and leave them stunned.
There are about sixty-six species of toothed whale. (Dolphins are a kind of toothed whale.) They tend to be social (live in groups) and even help each other to hunt.
Whales use echolocation in a similar way to dolphins in order to find their way around. This means that they send sound waves out and gauge how they bounce back – this tells them what objects are in front of them. This ability is especially useful when navigating in murky or dark waters.
Whales also talk to each other using strange, eerie noises that sound a little bit like music. These sounds are very complex and travel for many miles through the water. Whales often visit old friends and this communication must help them to find each other.
Scientists now think that different clans of whales have their own dialect; their own language of clicks.
The babies have a covering of hair when they are born. They can swim straight away. They stay close to their mothers and have a strong bond with them.
Many whales migrate, that means they travel great distances during certain times of the year. They live in warmer waters to have their babies and travel to colder waters to find plentiful food stocks.
They travel alone or in groups called pods. Whales are often very social creatures; they teach and learn, share childcare and grieve at loss.
Both types of whales have horizontal tail fins that help propel them through the water. They have fins each side of their bodies and usually one on their backs; this is called a dorsal fin.
Sometimes whales jump high up out of the water; this is called breaching. Scientists are not sure why they do this. They might be playing or communicating to other whales.
ln fact, whales have a lot of behaviour that scientists do not yet understand and their investigations continue.
The blue whale is the biggest whale; it is as high as a nine storey building, but it eats the smallest creatures in the sea. lt is a baleen whale. lt is also the loudest animal on Earth.
The smallest whale is the dwarf sperm whale which is only just over two and a half metres long.
Killer whales and short-finned pilot whales are the fastest swimming at nearly thirty miles an hour.
Grey whales make the longest migration; up to twelve and a half thousand miles.
Sperm whales are the biggest hunters on Earth. They probably have the biggest brain of any animal that has ever lived. This whale only has teeth in its lower jaw. lt can eat fish but mostly eats squid. Most of its prey is swallowed whole unless it is really big, like a giant squid.
A sperm whale can hold its breath for up to one and a half hours. lt has one blow hole that shuts under water. lt cannot breathe through its mouth.
Most of its head is a nose cavity; this is filled with a special kind of oil. This oil helps the whale sink down to low depths when it is chilled by air and rise up again when it is warmed by blood. The whale knows how to regulate the temperature.
The oil also helps to magnify the clicks it makes. The noise is over 200 decibels and can be heard up to 60 km away.
The click is made at the front of the head. The noise travels back through the oil to the skull at the back of the head. The skull is shaped like a satellite dish which bounces the noise back out through the oil again to the front of the nose.
The noise then travels out into the water to produce echolocation and communication with other whales.
Some people see whales from ships, you can usually only see their backs and tails above the water; unless you are lucky enough to see them breach. Have you ever done that?
Bye bye everyone – don’t forget to subscribe to my blog!
Love and kisses
Bill and Bob’s Joke of the Week
Bob: Do you know how you can tell how heavy a whale is?
Bill: No. How can you tell how heavy a whale is?
Bob: Take him to a whale weigh station!
Salty Sam © Christina Sinclair 2008
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of material from this blog without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner is strictly prohibited.
Links may be used to www.christina-sinclair.com
A killer whale showing off his teeth
This is what a baleen looks like
A sperm whale has a large forehead – a third of its body is head
Bowhead whales have very large mouths
A minke Whale looks very much like a dinosaur
A short-finned pilot whale blowing bubbles
A beluga whale doesn’t have a dorsal fin – they are light-coloured and often live in icy seas
Humpback whales often breach – they all have individual distinctive markings on their tails
Narwhals have enormous tusks
If you are not lucky enough to be able to see sea creatures in the wild, you can see models of them in natural history museums
(this one is in London)
You can see their shape, colour and size
This is a model of a sperm whale
This blue whale swamps the creatures on display around it
A diagram to show echo location magnified in the oil in a sperm whale’s head
The skull acts like a radar dish
A whale and a dolphin playing together
I don’t know what kind of whale this is but I do like his cap!
THE SALTY SAM NEWS DESK
Bill and Bob have been preparing questions for their team for their next Friday afternoon class quiz. Yes, they have another one coming up as soon as they go back to school.
See if you can answer their questions…
BILL AND BOB’S ANIMALS THAT LIVE IN WATER QUIZ
Can you complete these words?
1. an arctic marine animal with tusks
W = w_ _ _ _ _
2. a type of fish that swims in shoals
H = h_ _ _ _ _ _
3. a plant-like animal
A = a_ _ _ _ _ _
4. a crustacean with eight legs and two claws
L = l_ _ _ _ _ _
5. a slimy serpent-like fish
E = e_ _
6. a marine mammal – their babies are called pups
S = s_ _ _ _
Question number three
At the same time, Auntie Alice and Emily were making a dress for her 12” doll.
It was so easy that Emily did all the sewing herself. If you would like to make one too, here is how you can do it.
A 12” DOLL BEACH SARONG
Cut a piece of fabric 20cm high and 25cm wide. Use fabric that is not too thick because it needs to drape a little.
Sew a tiny hem all the way around the outside.
Sew two snap fasteners to the top two corners and the dress and it will fasten at the back of the neck.
Alternatively, you could add ribbons to tie at the back of the neck instead.
*Check that the measurements will fit your doll before you cut your fabric.
Then they all went down to the beach for the afternoon.
TO ADVERTISE ON THIS BLOG
Do you know what these phrases mean?
- The Big Apple
- Big Brother
- too big for one’s boots
- to have a big mouth
- a big noise
BLOW MY FOGHORN!!!
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lt’s the Weekend!
HOW TO MAKE A FELT WHALE BADGE
You can use a shade of blue felt, or white or another colour.
Cut out 2 felt shapes.
- On the piece you want to use as the front, embroider an eye and blowhole using 2 strands of embroidery thread to make a French knot. Wrap the thread around the needle 5 times for the eye and 3 times for the blow hole.
- Outline the edges of the side fins using straight stitches.
- On the other piece sew on a brooch pin making sure you attach it to the right side.
- Sew the two pieces together around the edges using tiny over-sew stitches in sewing thread or blanket stitches in one strand of embroidery thread. Use a matching or contrasting colour. Leave a gap at the base of the tail for stuffing.
- Lightly stuff and sew up the gap.
- Sew on a mouth at the front of the face.
(If you want to turn it into a ‘Save the Whale’ badge, then embroider the word ‘save’ on its side.)
Please note that the material on this blog is for personal use and for use in classrooms only.
It is a copyright infringement and, therefore, illegal under international law to sell items made with these patterns.
Use of the toys and projects is at your own risk.
©Christina Sinclair Designs 2008
Answers to the News Desk Quiz
A sea anemone
The first letter of each answer spells ‘whale’.
Quick Quiz Answers
- The Big Apple – New York
- Big Brother – a powerful state or organization that controls its citizens (people) – the term comes from a book called Nineteen Eight-Four by George Orwell
- too big for one’s boots – big-headed/conceited
- to have a big mouth – to talk too much or say something one shouldn’t
- a big noise – an important person