for their own good...
is the general name for the large, primarily marine mammals belonging
to the order Cetacea (the smaller members of the order are called
"dolphins" or "porpoises"). The Cetaceans are
an ancient group, some going back to the Eocene epoch (55 million
years ago). They are fascinating creatures, highly adapted to aquatic
life and yet exhibiting clearly mammal characteristics – they develop
their young internally, give birth at sea, nurse the young with
milk and are warm-blooded. They make long migratory journeys between
feeding and breeding areas, most taking their trips in groups (pods
or gams) made up of families and traveling to and from the same
general areas of the sea year after year. Not counting the dolphins,
there are 11 whale species that have been confirmed present in Philippine
waters, a report from Silliman University indicates. These are:
Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), Minke whale (Balaenoptera
acutorostrata), Bryde’s whale (Balaenoptera edeni), Short-finned
pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus), Melon-headed whale
(Peponocephala electra), Pygmy killer whale (Feresa attenuata),
False killer whale (Pseudorca cassidens), Killer whale (Orcinus
orca), Blainville’s beaked whale (Mesoplodon densirostris),
Dwarf sperm whale (Kogia simus), Pygmy sperm whale (K.
breviceps) and Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus).
At least four of these are considered endangered (see below).
age: 55 million years
threats: Commercial whaling, especially before it was regulated,
hunted down whales almost to extinction (as one species became scarce,
another one was quickly chosen to take its place). Even now, with
regulations in place, many species of whales are counted among those
animals most vulnerable to extinction.
name: Physeter catodon
names: cachalot, Sperm whale
up to 53 tons Length: males—up to 19 meters; females—up
to 9 meters
marks or features: Flat-topped head, squared snout; head
is one-third of the total length of the entire body; blowhole is
a single, asymmetrical opening on the anterior left tip of snout;
known to dive more than a mile deep and remain submerged for an
hour or longer before surfacing to "blow."
Squid and cuttlefish – the sperm whale consumes more than a ton
of food every day.
name: Megaptera novaeangliae
names: Humpback whale
50 tons Length: up to 15 meters
marks or features: Exceptionally large head, accounting
for nearly a third of the animal’s total length; numerous wartlike
tubercles on its head have bristles or hairs in their center; sometimes
leaps completely out of the water in an act called breaching.
Humpback whales have been hunted to near extinction, and only a
few thousand are believed to survive today.
name: Balaenoptera acutorostrata
names: Minke whale
up to 9 meters
marks or features: One of the smaller species of whales
and the smallest of the fin whales; the upper surface of the body
is bluish-gray, the undersides are white; the upper side of the
flipper has a white band; frequently travels in small schools that
swim into bays and estuaries or close to coasts; when they jump,
they generally fall back on their side, making a large noise and
name: Balaenoptera edeni
names: Bryde’s whale
up to 15 meters
marks or features: Most distinctive feature is the baleen,
which is white streaked with gray and black; slimmer and more streamlined
than any of the other fin whales.
The Bryde’s whale’s fringes are so brittle and cannot serve
effectively as a sieve, so this whale feeds mainly on small schooling
Bryde’s whale does not contribute significantly to the whaling industry,
but that’s because it has never been abundant to begin with.