More Whales

Workers prepare to hoist the model of Phoenix, a model of an actual North Atlantic right whale, into position above the exhibit hall floor in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in...
Dr. Stefan Huggenberger from the University of Cologne explains sound production in sperm whales in "Moby Dick's Boom Box: Nasal Complex of Sperm Whales," a presentation at the Smithsonian's National...
Two North Atlantic right whales ( Eubalaena glacialis ) swim at the surface of the water. Learn more about this species in the North Atlantic Right Whale section.
Traveling aboard the Charles W. Morgan , a 173-year-old whaling ship on its 38th Voyage, I’m struck by its paradox: this vessel which spent years chasing and killing whales is now helping us to study...
The yellow features in this 3-D reconstruction of a fin whale fetal skull represent the early developmental stages of ear bones, characteristics that are extremely rare, fragile and nearly impossible...
This family tree shows how the ancestors of whales moved gradually from land to sea. Early whales took advantage of abundant marine resources, feeding on the ocean's fish, squid and other larger food...
The whales that we see in today's world can broadly be split into two groups: those with teeth (odontocetes), and those that have baleen (mysticetes) instead of teeth. These two groups share a common...
A right whale opens its mouth wide, revealing huge plates of baleen hanging from its upper jaw. There are between 200 and 270 baleen plates on each side of a right whale's upper jaw. They work like a...
Offshore Peru, during the Eocene (~56-34 million years ago), showing three archaeocetes (ancient whales), along with a previously described fossil penguin. Top to bottom: Perudyptes devriesi ,...
Whales swim, but their ancestors walked. Whales are mammals (like us) whose ancestors lived on land. Life probably began in the ocean and then evolved to colonize the land. Yet the whale’s ancestors...
Phoenix rises out of the waters east of Cape Cod, MA, in April 2003. The rough patches of skin (known as callosities) occur in unique patterns on all North Atlantic right whales and help researchers...
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was signed into law on December 28, 1973 by President Nixon. Over 2,000 species are currently on the ESA, and they are separated into "Threatened" and "Endangered"...
Large whales are notoriously hard to study. Except when rising to breathe, they swim beneath the ocean's surface out of human sight, which makes it difficult to find and track them. They often live...
This early whale was well suited to life at sea. But it also may have spent time on land. An ancestor of the right whale , Maiacetus lived 49-40 million years ago. It had flipper-like limbs and...
Jorge and I packed up the night we arrived in Panama with Aaron O'Dea and his team from STRI . The road we took in two field vehicles mostly followed the Panama Canal heading northwards; we had to...
Made from spruce wood and caribou teeth, this mask was worn in ceremonies of thanksgiving. It sits atop a decorative breastplate with images of whaling crews in skin boats called umiaks.
Beluga whales are naturally vocal animals. They are often called “ canaries of the sea ” thanks to their wide repertoire of sounds such as whistles, squeals, moos, chirps, and clicks. Some...
Dr. Maya Yamato and colleague John Ososky dissect the head of a deceased stranded fin whale in the Chesapeake Bay to examine soft tissue associated with the ears. In 2015, Yamato’s team of...
Subscribe to Whales