There’s a lot to ooh and ahh over in the vast oceans and seas of the world, but possibly the most majestic of all animals is the whale. Whales belong to the order “Cetacea,” and along with other members of this group like dolphins and porpoises, they are mammals who are totally accustomed to aquatic environments. Unlike many other sea creatures, however, whales need air to survive and have to surface regularly, which is why they don’t sleep for very long.
Unfortunately, not everyone has historically respected the critical part that whales play in the ecosystem, so they’ve been hunted and otherwise affected to near extinction. They’re currently listed as endangered, with some species completely wiped out already. In fact, one of the most threatened right now is the North American right whale, of which there are only about 300 left in the world. Aside from the fact that the world would be a less incredible place without whales, their status at the top of the food chain means that there are very real dangers to the rest of the marine environment, should they be totally eradicated. Even though protective measures have been taken for decades now in an effort to reverse the effects of whaling, six of the 13 “great” whale species are listed as endangered.
Although there are plenty of differences between the various species of whale, each one is impressive in its own right. Can you tell one type of whale from another? Take our quiz to see how much you know about whale species and how these creatures differ.