Contributed by Mike Hawe and Winston Pup, ACS Volunteers
(top) and Winston (bottom)
How do we
tell the different whales apart when we're on the shore looking through
binoculars? Their black-and-white
coloring, dorsal fin and single blowhole make Orcas fairly
easy. But sometimes, in poor light, Risso dolphins can be mistaken for
Orcas. Fin Whales may give us a challenge too.
can we tell the Fin Whales from the Gray Whales?
- A Gray Whale
has a short, bushy, heart-shaped blow (8-13 feet high). Fin Whales
have a much taller
(13-20 ft. high) blow that's shaped like a cone.
- Gray Whales
have no dorsal fin. Instead they have a series of dorsal bumps, ridges
Fin Whale has a small dorsal fin on its back. It very rarely shows
its flukes (tail) when diving.
Bumps or Knuckles
- Grays usually
swim around 5 mph, but Fin
Whales are sometimes referred to as the "Greyhounds" of the seas because they can reach speeds up
to 20 mph. That's about twice the maximum speed (10 mph) of a Gray whale.
- Gray whales
are stocky, shorter (40-45 ft. long) whales. They are mottled gray
in color, with white/gray
barnacles and yellowish lice infestations. Fin Whales are slender,
longer (70-80 ft.) whales with dark-gray to brownish-black skin.
This! Graphic Organizer
- Make a
3-column chart to list the differences between Fin, Orca, and Gray Whales.
Draw illustrations of each whale. Add new facts as you learn them.
Science Education Standards
- The characteristics
of an organism can be described in terms of a combination of traits.