NiE Whale of a TIme

Whale breaching off Coffs Harbour.
Whale breaching off Coffs Harbour. Rachel Vercoe

THEY'RE the giants of the ocean. Magnificent creatures that exhibit various types of amazing physical behaviour when they surface. A spectacle that draws us to the tops of lookouts or aboard a boat in the hope of catching a glimpse of these mammoths of the sea.

Whales belong to the order cetacean, which includes whales, dolphins and porpoises. Whales are divided into two suborders: baleen and toothed whales.

- The largest species of whale are the baleen which have two blowholes and a comb-like fringe, called a baleen, on the upper jaw, used to filter plankton, as well as small fish and crustaceans.

- Toothed whales have teeth and prey on fish, squid, other marine mammals, using echolocation to sense their surrounding environment.

Like all mammals, whales breathe air into lungs, are warm-blooded, feed their young milk and have some hair (although very little).

Whales are efficient swimmers, propelling their large bodies through the water using their flippers, flukes (tail fins) and dorsal fin (not present in all species).

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