15 Surprising and Interesting Fun Facts About Whales

Updated on January 24, 2019
Cool Rare Animals profile image

In my childhood, I adopted a puppy that changed my life and attitude towards animals—I have since become a lifelong animal lover.

Whales are incredible creatures. Along with dolphins and porpoises, they're one of the few groups of marine mammals. Although their bodies take the form of a fish, like mammals, they feed their offspring milk, breathe air into their lungs, are warm-blooded, and have (a little bit of) hair.

Living in all oceans, whales travel alone or in groups known as pods each year. Most are quite active; diving deep or slapping the water with their fins. They jump high with most of their bodies leaving the water and landing on their backs. Such a sight will definitely leave any observer in awe.

Below are 15 fun facts about whales, proving that these creatures are a wonder of nature.

  1. Whales can hold their breaths for at least 20 minutes.
  2. The ocean is part whale pee.
  3. The blue whale is the largest known creature to ever inhabit the planet.
  4. Whale "vomit" is used in perfumes.
  5. Accumulated ear wax can tell a whale's age.
  6. The story of Moby-Dick is real.
  7. There are two types of whales.
  8. A whale's blowhole does not shoot out seawater.
  9. Orcas slaughter great white sharks for their liver.
  10. Whales don't sleep.
  11. The texture of whale milk is like that of a toothpaste.
  12. Bowhead whales are the longest-living mammals.
  13. Whales migrate to feed and mate.
  14. Cuvier's beaked whales are astounding deep divers.
  15. Humpback whales sing complex songs.

Fun Facts about Wonderful Whales
Fun Facts about Wonderful Whales | Source

Whales can hold their breaths for at least 20 minutes.

On average, whales can remain submerged for 20 minutes. Sperm whales have the most efficient respiratory system, allowing them to spend up to 90 minutes underwater. A Cuvier's beaked whale holds the record of longest stay underwater by a mammal. It lasted for 138 minutes.

Whales are able to hold their breaths for significantly longer periods compared to most mammals due to high levels of hemoglobin and myoglobin in their bodies. These proteins store oxygen in their blood and muscles. With the ability to reduce their heart rate and temporarily shut down some organs, they tend to use oxygen more slowly.

The ocean is part whale pee.

Like all other mammals, whales need to get rid of the waste water they produce. About 166 gallons of urine is excreted by a sei whale in one day. A fin whale's daily production of urine amounts to 257 gallons.

The blue whale is the largest known creature to ever inhabit the planet.

Blue whales can grow to a length comparable to that of a Boeing 737. A female found in the Antarctic Ocean was 100ft long and weighed 144 tonnes, making it the biggest recorded blue whale.

Being an enormous animal, a blue whale's heart is about the size of a small sedan. A human child will be able to crawl through its aorta. Its tongue can be heavier than an elephant. When blue whales are born, they're usually 25ft long and weigh up to 7 tonnes.

Although the blue whale is the biggest, it doesn't mean that it has the largest body parts or creates the loudest sound. Here are some of the species that beat it.

Whale Type
bowhead whale
thickest blubber
Predominantly dwelling in the Arctic, a bowhead's blubber that can be as thick as 28 inches insulates it from the frigid waters.
sperm whale
biggest brain
With a head big enough to accommodate a car inside it, a sperm whale's brain can weigh up to 20 pounds.
southern right whale
largest testicle
This species boasts of a 12-foot penis and a one-tonne pair of testicles that can produce a gallon of sperm.
longest tooth
The male narwhal possesses two teeth. With the left one growing to more than 6 feet and piercing the whale's lip, it looks more like a tusk than a tooth.
sperm whale
loudest sound
At 230 decibels, the sound a sperm whale makes is more than enough to rupture a human's eardrums.

Whale "vomit" is used in perfumes.

Ambergris is a whale excrement released from the abdomen and is believed to aid a whale's digestion. Discharged hundreds of miles from the coast, it starts soft and putrid. Years of exposure to salt water and the sun turns it into something similar to a rock with a waxy feel and a sweet smell.

A 7-pound piece of ambergris can be worth more than $50,000. It's highly valued not only because it's rare but also because it's hard to find any substitute for it as a base for perfume.

Accumulated ear wax can tell a whale's age.

During the summer months, whales produce light-colored earwax. When they migrate to warmer regions before winter comes, the earwax formed is dark-colored. The earwax accumulates and hardens, forming an earplug. The number of alternating light and dark layers of the earplug can be used to estimate how old a whale is.

The story of Moby-Dick is real.

While Moby-Dick didn't exactly exist, the story is inspired by a real event. In 1820, the whaler Essex was attacked by a massive sperm whale. The ship sunk and the crew that survived spent at least 90 days at sea before they were rescued.

There are two types of whales.

Whales are classified into baleen and toothed (self-explanatory). The baleen plate is a skin derivative that hangs from the upper jaw and is used to filter food from seawater. Aside from the presence or absence of this feeding system, the two types of whales differ in many other ways.

Toothed Whales
Baleen Whales
Number of known species
Females typically smaller than males
Sexual dimorphism
Males typically smaller than females
Varies from small to large
Tongue size
Uses echolocation
Use of echolocation doubtful

A whale's blowhole does not shoot out seawater.

Whales breathe air into their lungs through the blowhole. Located at the back or on top of the head, this hole is covered by flaps that keep water out whenever they go under water.

While many believe that the plume of mist they release when they breathe is seawater, it's actually a mix of bacteria and hot air. Once expelled to the colder environment, the hot air condenses to water droplets.

Orcas slaughter great white sharks for their liver.

With their terrifying reputation, it's hard to imagine great white sharks being prey to a whale. But orcas, also known as killer whales, have been feeding on these top predators. They specifically target the shark's liver probably due to that fact that this organ stores extremely high energy density.

An orca is able to overpower a shark by flipping it over. With its belly up, a great white shark becomes naturally paralyzed. A shark needs to move to breathe and so the orca wins without exerting much effort.

Don't be fooled, though. A killer whale is not a whale. It's a dolphin.

Whales don't sleep.

At least not in the way other mammals do, or they'll drown. Devised with an involuntary respiratory system, whales shut down only half of their brain during sleep. The other half stays alert to control the blowhole and initiate each breath.

When whales sleep, they either rest quietly in a vertical or horizontal position or swim sluggishly beside another whale. Sperm whales are known to sleep vertically.

The texture of whale milk is like that of a toothpaste.

As mammals, whales produce milk to feed their young. The mother gives its baby milk either by allowing it to suckle from the nipple or squirting to its mouth. The 35% - 50% fat concentration in the milk makes it thick like a toothpaste. This consistency permits it to travel through water without breaking up.

Bowhead whales are the longest-living mammals.

With an average life expectancy of 200 years, bowheads are the oldest mammals that are alive on earth. The oldest recorded bowhead lived for about 211 years.

Whales in the wild have long life span and in general, the larger species are likely to live longer than the smaller ones. However, the life of a whale can be drastically shortened when they're in captivity.

Whales migrate to feed and mate.

Whale food is abundant in regions where water is cold so during the summer months, whales migrate to these places. In late autumn when the water becomes too cold and the food gets scarce, they journey to warmer areas to mate and breed.

Humpback whales used to hold the title of longest-migrating mammals. But in 2015, a female gray whale was reported to have travelled around 14,000 miles for a return trip from Russia to Mexico, breaking the record.

Cuvier's beaked whales are astounding deep divers.

Not only does this species hold the record of longest stay underwater, it's also known to dive down to almost 10,000 feet deep, the deepest dive any mammal has ever done. These creatures dive deep for one sole reason: to get food, most likely deep-sea squid.

Humpback whales sing complex songs.

Humpback whales emit a series of beautiful and complex songs for several minutes and they're able to repeat the same series of sounds with great precision. Each individual humpback sticks to its own type of song.

The purpose of their songs is still not clear. Perhaps they produce these sounds to attract females, who curiously have never been recorded singing. Other scientists think that songs act as migratory beacon. It is also probable that they use these sounds to locate large masses of krill.

Let other people know how amazing whales are. Share this on your Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.



    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image

      ur mom 

      2 weeks ago


    • profile image


      2 weeks ago

      Whale's do actually sleep. It's just something called unihemispheric sleep. Meaning, they only sleep one brain hemisphere at a time. Birds and dolphins also have this. But other than that, I think the article is great.

    • profile image


      2 months ago

      Thank you i will rember this

    • profile image


      2 months ago

      unbelievable facts and very helpful

    • profile image


      9 months ago


    • profile image


      9 months ago

      Best facts I have never heard them

    • Cool Rare Animals profile imageAUTHOR

      Cool Rare Animals 

      18 months ago

      :) Thanks @Ellison

    • Ellison Hartley profile image

      Ellison Hartley 

      18 months ago from Maryland, USA

      This is super interesting! I didn't know any of these things!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, owlcation.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)