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adult: Sexually mature, at or near full size.
anterior: Located on or near the front of the
baleen/baleen plates: Triangular plates
made of keratin; having a
- fibrous, hairy
fringe on the inner edge. Several hundred of these plates hang from the
roof of a baleen whale's mouth, helping to strain food from the water.
baleen whale: One of 11 species of whales
having baleen plates
"bait ball": describing
the defensive schooling behavior of
- some bait fish as large numbers
tighten into a dense oval (when approached by predators like whales,
sharks and billfish).
beak: Jaws of a cetacean which project forward
from the head.
blow: Exhaled cloud of moisture from cetacean.
The act of breathing.
blowhole: Nostrils on head.
blubber: Layer of fat below the skin,
which helps insulate cetaceans and
- many other marine mammals.
bow: Front of the boat
bow-riding: Surfing on the pressure
wave created in front of a moving ship
- or large whale.
breaching: Full body or partial body
leaps out of the water resulting in a
- large splash.
calf: A baby cetacean still being feed milk by
caudal: Of, at or near the tail.
carpals: Bones of the wrist.
cervical: Of the neck
cetacean: Marine mammals belonging to
the order Cetacea, which includes
- all whales, dolphins and
porpoises (currently 79 species).
clavical: collarbone, links the sternum and
clicks: loud impulsive sounds emitted
by sperm whales; repeated at slow
- and very regular intervals.
cookie-cutter shark: A
group of tiny sharks which feed by taking small
- round plugs of
flesh from the body of cetaceans and other types of larger
cow: Adult female whale.
crow's nest: A small lookout
platform with a protective railing located near
- the top of a ship's
distal sac: A passageway linking
the right and left nasal passages in the
- head of sperm whales.
dolphin: Smaller cetaceans with
conical teeth and usually a pointed dorsal
- fin contained in several
families within the order Cetacea.
dorsal: Of, toward, on, in or near the back.
dorsal fin: The main fin on the
dorsal surface of certain marine mammals
- and fishes.
dorsal ridge: hump or ridge on
the dorsal surface of some cetaceans in
- place of a prominent dorsal
echolocation: Sound emission by
cetaceans, who "read" the returning echo
- to navigate and
falcate: Curved, sickle-shaped.
flipper: Fore-limb of a cetacean, also called
the "pectoral fin"
flipper-slapping: Lifting a
flipper out of the water and slapping it on the
fluke: One of two horizontally flattened
sections of the tail of a cetacean, containing no bone.
fluking: Raising of tail out of water as a whale
genital slit: External opening
to a cetacean's internal reproductive and
- urinary tracts.
herd: Group of cetaceans usually asociated with
humerus: The long bone of the upper portion of
the fore limb.
hydrophone: An electrical
instrument for detecting or monitoring sound
junk: A material found below the spermaceti organ
in a sperm whale's head.
juvenile: A young animal, weaned from its mother, but not yet sexually
keel: Distinctive bulge on the tail stock, near the flukes.
keratin: A tough, fibrous protein
forming structures such as hair, nails,
- horns, hooves and
leviathan: A monstrous sea creature
mentioned in the Old Testiment. Job
lobtailing: Slapping the flukes with great
force on the water.
lumbar: Region of the back between the ribs and
mammals: A class of warm-blooded
vertebrates (backboned animals)
- including humans and cetaceans in
which the females produce milk
- from mammae.
mamma: An organ of female mammals that contains
mandible: The lower jaw.
maxilla: One of a pair of bones forming the
melon: Rounded forehead of many toothed-whales,
dolphins and porpoises.
metacarpals: Bones of the hand or
foot between the phalanges (finger or toe
- bones) and carpals
notch: Indentation on tail where trailing edges
of two flukes meet.
phalanges: Bones of fingers or toes.
pod: Group of cetaceans, often used with larger
porpoising: Leaping out of the water while
port: Left side of a boat.
posterior: Pertaining to the caudal end of
the body in an animal.
radius: One of two bones found in the forearm.
ridge: Raised line(s) on the rostrum of
some cetaceans running longitudinally
- between blowhole and
rorqual: A group of baleen whales which include the blue, fin,
- minke and humpback whales.
rostrum: The forward extension of the upper
jaw of the skull.
saddle patch: Light patch of
pigment behind the dorsal fin on some
sexual dimorphism: Size and
shape differences between male and females
- of the same
sloughed skin: A piece of skin which is
shed from the body.
spermaceti: A waxy substance found in the
head of the sperm whale.
spermaceti organ: Structure in head of
sperm whale containing spermaceti.
sperm whale acoustics:
- regular clicks: Long sequences of loud sound pulses at rates
typically between one and two per second.
- Frequency ranges
between 100 Hz to over 30 kHz. Loudness at source as high as 180
- creaks: Rapid sequences of clicks, produced at rates of up
to 220 per second and lasting for 10-25 seconds. They are thought
to be made by sperm whales when investigating food sources.
- rapid clicks: Sequence of clicks at rates of 80 per second,
sometimes heard from sperm whales at the surface when investigating
- clangs: Very loud slow clicks about one every 7 seconds.
Have been associated with large male sperm whales at or near the
- codas: Distinctive and sterotyped patterns of clicks. Most
often heard at the end of regular clicks from larger groups of
socialising whales at the surface. The purpose of codas is
unknown, but may have a role in acoustic communication.
spyhopping: Raising the head
vertically out of the water, possibly to view
squid: A variety of marine invertebrates
(Cephalopods) with an elongated
- body and ten arms surrounding a
mouth. Primary food for many cetaceans.
starboard: The right side of a boat.
stern: The back of a boat.
tail stock: Region from behind
dorsal fin to the flukes. Also called the
throat grooves: Folds of skin
that run from underneath the lower jaw to
- just behind the flippers
in some cetaceans (particularly the rorquals).
toothed whale: Suborder of cetaceans with
ulna: One of two bones of the forearm.
ventral: Pertaining to the belly or abdominal
region of an animal.
vertebrae: Bones forming the spinal column.
vocalizations: Sounds emitted by
cetaceans that may be of a communicative
weaned: No longer taking milk from its mother.
whale: A general term used to describe
any large cetacean and several
- smaller ones.
whale-watching: A activity in
which humans look for and possibly view
- whales in the natural
whaling: The activity in which humans
hunt and kill whales for meat,
- blubber and other products.
whistles: Higher frequency sounds emitted by
white caps: A wave with a crest of foam.