12th November 2019
Photo credit: Andrew Sutton
1. Whales are the biggest creatures on Earth
The blue whale is not only the biggest whale living today; the blue whale is the biggest creature ever to have lived on Earth.
Blue whales are mind-bogglingly gigantic. They commonly reach 29m (95ft) in length, that’s roughly as long as a basketball court or three London red double-decker buses parked end to end.
2. Dolphins have a large brain
Large brain animals like humans, chimpanzees, and dolphins have a number of things in common. They generally live long lives. They form stable communities and demonstrate complex emotions such as happiness, sadness and grief.
Dolphins are one of only a few species that pass the ‘mirror test’… they recognise their own reflection in a mirror!
3. Whales are the longest-living animals
Scientists believe bowhead whales can live longer than humans and are the longest-lived of all mammals.
The maximum lifespan for bowheads is currently unknown, but multiple lines of evidence including stone harpoon tips found embedded in bowhead blubber from failed attempts by whalers and detailed analysis of their eye tissues, point to bowheads being able to live for at least 150 years… quite possibly over 200 years.
4. WDC helped created the first-ever wild sea sanctuary in Iceland
In partnership with the Sea Life Trust, WDC has created the first-ever wild sea sanctuary in Iceland.
This sanctuary is one of the biggest developments in captive whale and dolphin care and protection in decades and the first of its kind. The sanctuary will become the new home to its first residents, two female beluga whales, Little Grey and Little White in spring 2020.
There are currently 3000 whales and dolphins held in captivity but WDC hopes the project will help to encourage the rehabilitation of more captive whales into natural environments, and one day help to bring an end to whale and dolphin entertainment shows.
Around 30 different species of whales and dolphins have been seen around the UK
Some of these have only been recorded a few times while others are seen more regularly. Sometimes we also get unexpected visits from species that are not usually found here, such as the beluga whale that visited the Thames in 2018 and the Humpback in 2019.
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