Cetaceans | Cetacea

Cetacean are an order of aquatic mammals, such as dolphins and whales. Most Cetacean live in the ocean, although there are a few species of dolphins that live in rivers in Asia and South America. Cetacean have specially developed hearing and sight to work underwater, and some species of Cetacean use echolocation. Cetacean are found worldwide, but typically prefer colder waters in the Northern and Southern hemispheres. Cetacean typically feed on fish and marine invertebrate, but some, such as the Killer Whale, feed on large mammals or birds, as well. Cetaceans have been hunted for their meat, oil, blubber, and to be kept in captivity to be exploited for entertainment.

What are the three groups of organisms that are considered cetaceans?

The 3 groups of organisms that are considered cetaceans are whales, dolphins and porpoises. The 3 groups are made of 89 species in total. The cetacean order is further divided into 2 groups: toothed whales (odontocetes) that includes over 73 species and baleen whales (mysticetes) that is made up of 11 species.

What do cetaceans eat?

All species of cetaceans are carnivores. A cetaceans’ diet depends on the species, but most cetaceans feed on mostly fish, and marine invertebrates. Some like the killer whale, feed on large mammals and birds like penguins or seals. Baleen whales usually eat mollusks, copepods, krill, small fish, and squid.

Where do cetaceans live?

Cetaceans can be found in all climates and all oceans of the world ranging from the coldest waters to tropical waters. Some species live only in specific areas, like the southern right whale dolphin and hourglass dolphin that only inhabit the Antarctic Ocean. Some species of whales migrate between seasonal habitats like the gray whale.

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Humpback Whale
Dimensioned side elevation drawing of a Humpback Whale with measured length and a scuba diver for scale

Humpback whales are one of the largest mammals in the ocean growing up to 16 meters (52 feet) and weighing up to 30 tons. Their name “Humpback” comes from the shape of their dorsal (back) fin and the way it looks when its diving in the water. Humpback whales can be found in all the oceans around the world. They like to tropical waters and subtropics to give birth. Humpback whales aren’t very social and usually live alone, in rare cases, they are in a small group of 2 or 3 other whales to migrate or feed.

The typical Humpback Whale has an overall height of 8’-9’8” (2.44-2.97 m) and body length of 43’-52’ (13-16 m). An average Humpback Whale weighs between 27.5-33 tons (25-30 metric tons) and has a typical lifespan of 45-100 years.

Series of front, top, and breaching drawings of a Humpback Whale
Humpback whales are one of the largest mammals in the ocean growing up to 16 meters (52 feet) and weighing up to 30 tons. “Humpback” comes from the shape of their dorsal (back) fin and the way it looks when its diving in the water. Humpback whales can be found in all the oceans around the world.

The typical Humpback Whale has an overall height of 8’-9’8” (2.44-2.97 m) and body length of 43’-52’ (13-16 m). An average Humpback Whale weighs between 27.5-33 tons (25-30 metric tons) and has a typical lifespan of 45-100 years.

Series of front, top, and breaching drawings of a Humpback Whale
Humpback Whale
Height:
8’-9’8” | 2.44-2.97 m
Width:
Length:
43’-52’ | 13-16 m
Depth:
Weight:
27.5-33 tons | 25-30 metric tons
Area:
Scientific Name
Megaptera novaeangliae
Lifespan
45-100 years

Drawings include:
Humpback Whale side elevation, front, top, breaching

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Common Bottlenose Dolphin
Dimensioned side elevation drawing of a Common Bottlenose Dolphin measured for length with a scuba diver for scale

Common Bottlenose Dolphins are long-beaked dolphins and are also one of the most well-known water mammals on the planet. Their popular exposure in marine parks and high-trafficked beaches have contributed to their global presence. Bottlenose Dolphins can swim at an average of 15 mph (24km/h) and dive for 20 minutes but commonly hit the surface every 3 minutes. Common bottlenose dolphins hunt eels, squid, and fish and they swallow their food whole. Keeping a healthy diet, these dolphins can live up to 50 years.

The typical Bottlenose Dolphin has an overall height of 2’1”-2’11” (64-89 cm) and body length of 10’-14’ (310-430 cm). An average Bottlenose Dolphin weighs between 300-1,400 lb (136-625 kg) and has a typical lifespan of 20-30 years.

Collection of illustrations of the Common Bottlenose Dolphin drawn from the top, front and jumping positions
Common Bottlenose Dolphins are a species of long-beaked dolphins and one of the most well-known water mammals on the planet. At around around 1000 pounds and 13 feet (4 m) in length, Bottlenose Dolphins can swim at an average of 15 mph (24km/h) and dive for 20 minutes.

The typical Bottlenose Dolphin has an overall height of 2’1”-2’11” (64-89 cm) and body length of 10’-14’ (310-430 cm). An average Bottlenose Dolphin weighs between 300-1,400 lb (136-625 kg) and has a typical lifespan of 20-30 years.

Collection of illustrations of the Common Bottlenose Dolphin drawn from the top, front and jumping positions
Common Bottlenose Dolphin
Height:
2’1”-2’11” | 64-89 cm
Width:
Length:
10’-14’ | 3.1-4.3 m
Depth:
Weight:
300-1,400 lb | 136-625 kg
Area:
Scientific Name
Tursiops truncatus
Lifespan
20-30 years

Drawings include:
Common Bottlenose Dolphin side elevation, front, top, jumping

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Beluga Whale
Dimensioned size comparison diagram of a Beluga Whale with a scuba diver for scale

Beluga Whales are a species of whale known for their white color and vocal characteristics. Also known as the “sea canaries”, Beluga Whales are born grey and don’t get their whole color until 7-8 years. Beluga Whales are known for living in their arctic environment and weaving around icebergs from their keen hearing. Their live expectancy is on average 30 years, but they can live twice that if they aren’t hunted by polar bears or humans. Beluga whales are one of the most social animals in the sea and are often in groups (pods) whenever they travel.

The typical Beluga Whale has an overall height of 2’8”-4’2” (81-127 cm) and body length of 13’-20’ (4-6.1 m). An average Beluga Whale weighs between 2,000-3,000 lb (910-1,360 kg) and has a typical lifespan of 35-50 years.

Drawings of a Beluga Whale viewed from the front, top, and bottom elevations
Beluga Whales are a species of whale known for their white color and vocal characteristics. Also known as the “sea canaries”, Beluga Whales are born grey and don’t get their whole color until 7-8 years. Beluga whales are one of the most social animals in the sea and travel in groups (pods).

The typical Beluga Whale has an overall height of 2’8”-4’2” (81-127 cm) and body length of 13’-20’ (4-6.1 m). An average Beluga Whale weighs between 2,000-3,000 lb (910-1,360 kg) and has a typical lifespan of 35-50 years.

Drawings of a Beluga Whale viewed from the front, top, and bottom elevations
Beluga Whale
Height:
2’8”-4’2” | 81-127 cm
Width:
Length:
13’-20’ | 4-6.1 m
Depth:
Weight:
2,000-3,000 lb | 910-1,360 kg
Area:
Scientific Name
Delphinapterus leucas
Lifespan
35-50 years

Drawings include:
Beluga Whale side elevation, front, top, bottom

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Vaquita
Dimensioned side elevation drawing of a Vaquita compared to the size of a swimming person

Vaquitas are a marine mammal that have a very particular appearance with their eyes and mouth blacked out and their upper side of the body is grey. Vaquitas are small mammals and one of the world's rarest. In 2018, researchers discovered that less than 10 vaquitas remain in the wild. Vaquitas have been on the endangered species list since the late 90s. Their environment is in the Gulf of California in Mexico, which is about 900 square miles. A big factor of their extinction is from increasingly lack of fish, squid, and crustaceans that make up their diet.

The typical Vaquita has an overall height of 12”-14” (30-36 cm) and body length of 4’-5’ (1.2-1.5 m). An average Vaquita weighs between 100-110 lb (45-50 kg) and has a typical lifespan of 20 years (average).

Pair of drawings of a Vaquita in jumping and front positions
Vaquitas are marine mammals with a very particular appearance with their eyes and mouth blacked out and their upper side of the body is grey. Vaquitas have a size of four to five feet long (1.2-1.5 m) and weigh in around 120 pounds (50 kg). Vaquitas are small mammals and one of the world's rarest.

The typical Vaquita has an overall height of 12”-14” (30-36 cm) and body length of 4’-5’ (1.2-1.5 m). An average Vaquita weighs between 100-110 lb (45-50 kg) and has a typical lifespan of 20 years (average).

Pair of drawings of a Vaquita in jumping and front positions
Vaquita
Height:
12”-14” | 30-36 cm
Width:
Length:
4’-5’ | 1.2-1.5 m
Depth:
Weight:
100-110 lb | 45-50 kg
Area:
Scientific Name
Phocoena sinus
Lifespan
20 years (average)

Drawings include:
Vaquita side elevation, jumping, front

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Sperm Whale
Side elevation illustration of a Sperm Whale with dimensions for overall length and a scuba diver for scale

A Sperm Whale is a predator and is the largest toothed whale in the oceans. Sperm whales can live up to 60 years and baby whales (calves) are raised with their mothers a quarter of their life. The name sperm whale comes from the whaling industry that hunted them for oil lamps, lubricants, and candles. The sperm whale has a unique look characterized by its block-shaped head and its distinct blowhole. Sperm whales’ prey off squid and octopus. Sperm whales can weigh in over 40 tons and have a length of 50 feet (15 m), making it one of the biggest sea animals.

The typical Sperm Whale has an overall height of 6’9”-11’ (2.06-3.35 m) and body length of 39’-62’ (12-19 m). An average Sperm Whale weighs between 38.5-65 tons (35-59 metric tons) and has a typical lifespan of 60-70 years.

Pair of top and bottom drawings of a Sperm Whale
The Sperm Whale is the largest toothed whale in the oceans. Sperm whales can live up to 60 years and baby whales (calves) are raised with their mothers a quarter of their life. The name sperm whale comes from the whaling industry that hunted them for oil lamps, lubricants, and candles.

The typical Sperm Whale has an overall height of 6’9”-11’ (2.06-3.35 m) and body length of 39’-62’ (12-19 m). An average Sperm Whale weighs between 38.5-65 tons (35-59 metric tons) and has a typical lifespan of 60-70 years.

Pair of top and bottom drawings of a Sperm Whale
Sperm Whale
Height:
6’9”-11’ | 2.06-3.35 m
Width:
Length:
39’-62’ | 12-19 m
Depth:
Weight:
38.5-65 tons | 35-59 metric tons
Area:
Scientific Name
Physeter macrocephalus
Lifespan
60-70 years

Drawings include:
Sperm Whale side elevation, top, bottom

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