Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Whales details

Hi Sea Fans,

Hope you are having a nice holiday season. I wanted to share with you a little bit more about my time with Cynde and The Whalemobile. It was really fun. Cynde started out the day with a presentation to the students about whales. I got to sit with her while she talked to the kids. Did you know that whales are mammals just like us? They breathe air! It’s not water that comes out of their blowhole. Cynde talked about how there are over 85 different species of whales that are divided into two groups—toothed and baleen whales. Toothed whales include the dolphins, porpoises, orcas and sperm whales. They have a single blowhole, and they have teeth in their mouth. Here is a picture of me holding a sperm whale tooth. 

The baleen whales have two blowholes on top of their head, and in their mouths, they have large triangular plates--200-300 on each side! They use these plates to filter fish out of the water. Humpbacks, blue, fin and right whales are all baleen whales.  Here is a picture of me with the baleen from a fin whale.

After showing these artifacts to the students, Cynde then focused most of her talk on humpbacks because that is what she sees most often on the whale watch boat. Humpbacks migrate to the Caribbean in the winter to mate and calve and then to the coast of Massachusetts in the spring, summer and fall to feed. It’s so amazing; whales are off MA feeding the same time the leaves are on the trees. It’s because the growing season in the ocean is the same as that on land. Phytoplankton, the plant-like critters of the ocean, use nutrients, sunlight, water and CO2 to photosynthesize. They grow in huge numbers when all of these are readily available. These phytoplankton attract zooplankton (animal plankton), which in turn attract small fish like sand eels. The food chain!! That is why the whales come to feed! It’s so amazing how it’s all connected!

After Cynde’s talk, all the kids and I got to see the whale inflate! It only takes about 45 seconds, and it’s so amazing to watch. I loved listening to the students get all excited as they watched Nile get bigger and bigger. She’s 43 feet long! After Nile was inflated, we took turns by class and got to go inside!!

Happy holidays Sea Fans!
Chat soon!
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