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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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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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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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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Orca Whale | Killer Whale
Dimensioned size comparison drawing of an Orca Whale (Killer Whale) compared to the size of a person

Orca Whales, also known as Killer Whales, are a part of the dolphin family and is the largest in the family. They have a distinguishably black-white two-toned look and can be found up to 6 tons (5,500 kg) and 32 feet (9.7 meters) long. Orcas are carnivores and prey on fish and small seals and other species of dolphins. The name “killer whale” comes from the fact that they can take down large animals. Orcas are apex predators which means no other animal preys on the killer whale.

The typical Orca Whale, or Killer Whale, has an overall height of 5’3”-7’6” (1.60-2.29 m) and body length of 23’-32’ (7.01-9.75 m). An average Orca Whale weighs between 1.5-6 tons (1.3-5.4 metric tons) and has a typical lifespan of 30-50 years (wild); 60-70 years (captivity).

Collection of illustrations of the Orca Whale (Killer Whale) seen from various elevations
Orca Whales, also known as Killer Whales, are a part of the dolphin family and is the largest in the family. The name “killer whale” comes from the fact that they can take down large animals. Orcas are apex predators which means no other animal preys on the killer whale.

The typical Orca Whale, or Killer Whale, has an overall height of 5’3”-7’6” (1.60-2.29 m) and body length of 23’-32’ (7.01-9.75 m). An average Orca Whale weighs between 1.5-6 tons (1.3-5.4 metric tons) and has a typical lifespan of 30-50 years (wild); 60-70 years (captivity).

Collection of illustrations of the Orca Whale (Killer Whale) seen from various elevations
Orca Whale | Killer Whale
Height:
5’3”-7’6” | 1.60-2.29 m
Width:
Length:
23’-32’ | 7.01-9.75 m
Depth:
Weight:
1.5-6 tons | 1.3-5.4 metric tons
Area:
Scientific Name
Orcinus orca
Lifespan
30-50 years (wild); 60-70 years (captivity)

Drawings include:
Orca Whale (Killer Whale) side elevation, front, top, breaching

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Blue Whale
Size comparison drawing of a Blue Whale compared to a person with measurements for overall length

Blue Whales are the largest known animal in the world; growing up to 98 feet (30 meters) and weighing up to 173 tons (157,000 kgs). They can be found living in the North Atlantic, North Pacific and parts of the Southern Hemisphere. Just like their name, Blue Whales have a long-tapered body and have a bluish-grey dorsal. Blue whales don’t have teeth, but instead have large baleen which help separate sea water from krill after they swallow. After separation, the water is shot out their blowhole when they come up from water.

The typical Blue Whale has an overall height of 13’-16’ (3.96-4.88 m) and body length of 82’-105’ (25-32 m). An average Blue Whale weighs between 55-165 tons (50-150 metric tons) and has a typical lifespan of 80-90 years.

Illustrations of Blue Whales seen in various positions from the top, front and breaching
Blue Whales are the largest known animal in the world; growing up to 98 feet (30 meters) and weighing up to 173 tons (157,000 kgs). Just like their name, Blue Whales have a long-tapered body and have a bluish-grey dorsal. Blue whales don’t have teeth, but instead have large baleen systems.

The typical Blue Whale has an overall height of 13’-16’ (3.96-4.88 m) and body length of 82’-105’ (25-32 m). An average Blue Whale weighs between 55-165 tons (50-150 metric tons) and has a typical lifespan of 80-90 years.

Illustrations of Blue Whales seen in various positions from the top, front and breaching
Blue Whale
Height:
13’-16’ | 3.96-4.88 m
Width:
Length:
82’-105’ | 25-32 m
Depth:
Weight:
55-165 tons | 50-150 metric tons
Area:
Scientific Name
Balaenoptera musculus
Lifespan
80-90 years

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

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