Monday, March 06, 2000

Thar she blows …

It is an extraordinary experience to learn and study about whales and I have not even met them in person yet! I hope my heart will be able to contain the shear amount of excitement and happiness when I am before them. From curosity to fascination, to love, it’s like falling in love! Many times, I dreamt, I dreamt that I am one of the whales, how amazing is that!! Abandon my human form, jump into the waters, to be back with the whales, to be home. Maybe this is my fantasy, :).

Cetacean is from a latin word “cetus”, meaning large sea animal, and from a Greek word “ketos”, meaning sea monster. Personally, I don’t see them as any monsters, how could they! They are the most amazing beings I have ever seen. The word “cetacean” is a collectively term for whales, dolphins and porpoises, which comes in a great variation of size, from tiny dolphin of about a metre long, to the Blue Whale of about 25 metres! Live in all oceans and many major rivers, from warm waters of the equator to the cold waters of the 2 poles! Though very similar to sharks, especially in their streamlined design of their body shapes, cetaceans are mammals not fish. They are warm-blooded animal, like us, they breath air and give birth to live young, like us (again :P). So, how do we tell the difference? By looking at the tail! A cetacean’s tail is hortizontal and has an up-and-down movement while a fish’s tail is vertical and has a side-to-side movement.

Two main types of whales:-
Tooth whales or Odontocetes have teeth and feed mostly on fish, squids and some, even other marine mammals. Usually is one-animal-per-catch. All the dolphins and porpoises, Narwhal and Beluga, Sperm Whale and beaked whales, all belong to this family.
Baleen whales or Mysticetes have no teeth but baleen plates. They are larger whales like roquals, right whales and Gray Whale. They capture krills or small fish by the thousands at a time with their vast jaws. Pretty awesome.