What Are The Key Characteristics Of Whales?


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Steve Theunissen Profile
All whales bolt their food. Teeth are used to seize food only. The baleen or toothless whales cruise along with their mouths open and live mainly on the krill that clings to their whiskers. Down in the many chambers of the stomach the food undergoes a long period of digestion. In 1891 the English whale man, James Bartlett, was swallowed by a sperm whale. Later he was cut out of the humid tomb alive and undigested.
Vision is not the whale's outstanding characteristic. To "see," the whale depends largely on his ears, as does the bat. The ears are located behind the eyes, though not visible to the casual observer. A unique system of air sacks does double duty. They act as sound insulators and also adjust to the outside pressure by an inflow and outflow of blood. Sounds entering the outer ear strike the eardrum and are carried across to the inner ear. En route the arrangement of bones in the middle ear causes them to be highly amplified. Truly an invention of the One who created those great sea monsters!
Another built-in safety provision of the whale comes into play when pressure is suddenly released as the whale surfaces. Man in such circumstances, exposed to such change in pressure, has to avoid "the bends," a condition brought about by the formation of nitrogen bubbles in the blood and tissues. The whale is marvellously protected against "the bends."
Unable to take oxygen directly from the water as the fishes do, the whale must come to the surface for an air supply every fifteen to twenty minutes. When he exhales, a visible "blow" is created by the sudden expansion and cooling of the air ejected through his blow hole. Indeed, experienced whalers can tell the type of whale by the size, shape and angle of the "blow."

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