Whales are the largest animals living on Earth, though their size has not been able to protect them so far. Although whale hunting is prohibited, it still happens in some parts of the world. Additionally, the collateral effects of pollution and intensive fishing are the primary factors for the endangerment of whales and the destruction of their natural habitat.
What Kind of Cetacean Are Whales?
Before distinguishing between the different types of whale let us discuss their place in the animal kingdom. In a quick classification, cetacean is usually considered synonymous with whale, but in a strict sense this term is broader and also includes dolphins and other species. Whales are the largest kind of cetacean, and they can be toothed (Odontoceti) or baleen (Mysticeti). This type of cetacean is characterized by the following features:
- Beards (plates distributed in the shape of a comb used to filter food) located on the upper jaw of these cetaceans.
- Their large size. They often exceed 10 meters.
- Their diet is comprised of plankton, fish, copepods, and crustaceans.
Endangered Whale Species
There are many whale species. Among them, the most endangered ones are the blue whale and the black whale.
The Blue Whale
It is the biggest of all whales. Adults can weigh over 170 tons and reach a length of 30 meters. They can be found in all oceans except for the Arctic. Intensive whale fishing during the twentieth century almost drove this species to complete extinction.
Whale oil was particularly sought after, as it was used as fuel. Since then, crashing into boats has been the main cause of death for blue whales.
North Atlantic Right Whale
Also known as black right whale, it is one of the most endangered whale species, particularly the specimens living in the North Atlantic. It is estimated that there are only 500 North Atlantic Right Whales in this area. Once again, hunting has decimated the whale population, and though it is now banned the damage is already done. Right whales often go near the water surface, thus crashing into boats and accidental fishing are common.
What Are the Causes For the Disappearance of Certain Types of Whales?
- Climate change is one of the main causes for the destruction of the natural habitat of cetaceans. Of course, we are not only talking about whales. All of the world’s natural areas are being affected by these changes.
- The degradation of the whales’ natural habitat is a real problem in which men are to blame. Pollution and ocean waste have a negative impact on sea life.
- Intensive fishing causes a number of problems: some species can accidentally get injured or caught in nets. Another cause is indiscriminate fishing, as it creates scarcity of fish in certain areas. Men and whales compete for the same food.
- Noise (particularly coming from sonars) confuses and disorients whales.