What is the largest whale species historically

Whales and dolphins - the great marine mammals

Hardly any other group of animals has influenced world politics as much as the whales - until today. Together with dolphins and porpoises, the giants of the seas belong to the order of the cetaceans. The term "cetacea" is one Word composition from the Greek ketos for "sea monster" and the Latin cetus for "large sea animal".

They belong to the mammals that existed about 50 million years ago conquered the oceans as a habitat. In the course of evolution, the nostrils developed into blowholes on the top of the head. The body became streamlined, the horizontal developed for locomotion Tail fluke, and to stabilize the Dorsal fin. The fur was covered by a heat-insulating layer of fat, the so-called Bubble, replaced. Depending on the type, this fat pad can be up to 70 centimeters thick. It protects against the cold in the Arctic Ocean and at great depths and also serves as a food store for the whales.

Whether cold or warm, deep or shallow - whales became native to all oceans. They became the most aquatic mammals that even gave birth to their young underwater. There is only one thing they still cannot do today: breathe underwater.

From the smallest dolphin to the largest animal on earth, the blue whale - a total of 86 species of whale populate the oceans. They are divided into 14 families and 40 genera.

A first subdivision is made into baleen whales (suborder Mysticeti) and toothed whales (suborder Odontoceti). As the name suggests, one group has teeth and the other has whiskers instead, horn-like appendages in the upper jaw of the whale that can be used to filter the food out of the water. In addition, the two groups differ in the number of blowholes: toothed whales only have one, while baleen whales have two. Each species of whale snorts species-specific forms of spray fountains into the air when it exhales. Whalers and now also trained whale watchers can distinguish the species by their characteristic blow.

Whales and dolphins are threatened

Many whale species are - despite the moratorium (catching ban) on all large whale species since 1986 - still threatened in their population. For different reasons: Polluted seas, changed habitats, drowning in fishing nets, in which they end up as bycatch, being run over by ships and climate change are affecting them. Japan, Norway and Iceland are still whaling. Japan and Iceland for 'scientific purposes', Norway officially for commercial purposes due to an objection to the whaling moratorium.

About 33,500 of these unique marine mammals were killed from 1986 to 2009, including minke, bryde, sperm, fin and sei whales. Of these, Norway shot over 8,800 and Japan over 15,700 minke whales (minke whales). The International Whaling Commission IWC regularly condemns the actions of these states at its annual meeting, but without effect. Because the IWC has been unable to act for years: the bloc of states in favor of whaling and states in favor of whale protection, including Germany, are irreconcilable against each other. For the protection of the whales, however, an agreement is more necessary than ever.

The WWF does this to protect the whales

The WWF is active worldwide in numerous projects for the protection and research of whales and has already achieved a great deal for the protection of whales. The WWF called for the end of whaling at an early stage. As a result, commercial hunting of all species of large whales was banned by the international whaling moratorium in 1986. The WWF was also significantly involved in the establishment of the whale sanctuary in the waters of the Antarctic in 1994, 50 million square kilometers were designated as a whale sanctuary. In 1999, with the help of the WWF, an 85,000 square kilometer protected area was designated in the northern Mediterranean, in which a total of 13 whale species occur.

We are also involved in the designation of new protected areas: with our statements, scientific information and interventions, we were able to achieve that Poland, Sweden and Denmark were obliged to designate additional areas for the protection of harbor porpoises. We are also significantly involved in the processes for designating the first protected area on the high seas in the north-east Atlantic. Tourist whale watching is also supported by the WWF and is - for example in Iceland - an economically viable alternative to whale hunting.

This is how you help the whales and dolphins

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