Travel Attractions

Whale Watching FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions About Whales

Q. What Kinds Of Whales Are There?
A. There are 13 families of whales, including dolphins and porpoises, called cetaceans.

Q. Which Live In North Atlantic Waters?
A. Fin, humpback, minke, right, orca and pilot whales are the most common. You are likely to see the first three types on a whale watching excursion around Cape Cod.

Q. How Long Do Whales Live?
A. While it’s difficult to determine, researchers believe some whales live up to 100 years.

Q. How Do Researchers Identify Whales?
A. Markings on their flukes, or tail fins, are as unique as human fingerprints. Scientists can also indentify humpback whales by their individual songs

Q. How Large Are Whales?
A. The minke is the smallest baleen whale in North American waters. They grow to 33’ and weigh up to 10 tons. Fin whales grow to 79’ and weigh up to 60 tons.

Q. How Fast Do They Swim?
A. Larger whales, like the fin, can swim over 18 miles per hour.

Q. How Long Do Whales Stay Under Water?
A. Some can remain under for almost an hour, but most normally surface within minutes.

Q. Can Whales See?
A. Although whales’ eyes are tiny compared to their bodies, they can see clearly under water, in the air and in the darkness. However, because their eyes are on the sides of their heads, they can’t see things directly in front of them.

Q. Can Whales Hear?
A. Whales have only a tiny ear hole, but can hear very well from an inner ear hole. They can also hear sounds that are too high- or too low-pitched for humans to register and echoes of sounds they make.

Q. How Do Whales Breathe?
A. Whales breathe through a “blowhole” on the top of their heads. When they swim and dive for food, powerful muscles keep the blowhole closed.

Q. Do Whales Make Sounds?
A. Yes. Because they have no vocal cords, whales make chirping, moaning, grunting and whistling sounds by squeezing air through their blowholes and windpipes.

Q. Do Whales Actually Sing?
A. Male humpbacks do. Their songs, a series of repetitive sounds, are about 20 minutes long. Each humpback has a unique song.

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