Do you know that the Antarctic blue whale is the largest sea mammal on the planet? This remarkable creature weighs approximately 400,000 pounds, which is equivalent to 28 adult male elephants. And it reaches 100 feet in length.
In addition, whales are warm-blooded, just like humans. And interestingly, they look after their young ones for a considerable period. They breastfeed and protect their young babies from predators. Whales also deliver via live birth.
You’ll learn many interesting facts about whales in this post. But first, let’s provide the answer to the question below.
What is a baby whale called?
A baby whale is known as a calf. The mature female whale is called a cow, while the adult male is sometimes called a bull.
Female whales boast one of the longest reproductive cycles of any aquatic animal on the planet. These giant creatures also give birth every one to six years.
That is why it’s a priority for females to have multiple mating partners to increase their chances of getting pregnant. And they may display this behavior during the mating season.
Whales’ mating season depends on the species, including where they live. But it usually occurs during the fall and winter periods, which are cold. Both kinds of weather forces whales to move near the equator and benefit from the warmer tropical climate.
So that’s what baby whales are called. Let’s go deeper to reveal more facts.
How Are Baby Whales Born?
Whale’s gestation period is usually between 9 to 16 months, but it also varies from one species to another.
Additionally, it’s prevalent for whales to give birth to their babies while migrating. When it’s time for whales to give birth, they tend to migrate from a colder into a more temperate environment to boost their babies’ chances of survival upon delivery.
How do whales give birth? Since whales are mammals, they carry their young in the womb for months and have live births.
During birth, the calves’ fins are the first part that pops up. After that, other parts of the body follow suit. But there have been cases where the calf’s head first emerged during birth, though it’s rare.
Baby whales are also large. They measure 1/4 of their mother’s size. Nonetheless, the blue whale calves are a bit larger than the grey whale calves.
A Handy Tip: Whale breathes in natural air, despite being an aquatic animal. Additionally, after birth, whales tend to nudge their babies to the water surface, a move that allows the calves to have a taste of their first natural air.
What Food Does Baby Whale Eat?
Whale calves feed like babies birthed by humans. They consume breast milk for a considerable period. Despite being a bit large, calves can’t eat solid foods upon birth. They depend on their mother’s breast milk for quite a while.
Baby whales depend on their mother’s breast milk from 6months to 2 years. Some may stay for more than 2 years. It all depends on the whale species and other factors that come into play.
It is also essential to know that some whale calves that have started eating solid foods may want to continue consuming breast milk. And what encourages this is that female whales (cows) form strong bonds with their calves. The bond can last anywhere between a few years to a lifetime.
So, breast milk is the sole food of whale calves upon birth. And they’re known to consume a large amount of milk every day. Whales’ breast milk also boasts the right combination of nutrients, which helps calves to increase in size much faster.
How Much Weight Baby Whales Gain Daily
The first thing we need to focus on is the volume of milk whale cows can produce daily. It’s also crucial to note that this varies from one whale species to another.
Now, how many gallons of milk can the blue whale produce daily? The blue whale isn’t only the biggest aquatic mammal. It also generates a large volume of breast milk daily.
A nursing blue whale can produce milk worth over 50 gallons daily. And what’s more, their breast milk contains 35 to 50 percent of the required milk fat that helps the baby whales to gain approximately 10 pounds of weight every hour.
So, daily, a calf might gain up to 250 pounds. This explains why baby whales grow super fast.
A Handy Tip: Baby whales usually appear well-developed and can swim upon birth. They only depend on their mothers for protection and food.
Can Baby Whales Consume Breast Milk Underwater?
How whales manage to breastfeed their calves underwater is one of the wonders of the world. Breast milk isn’t a solid food. It’s liquid; thus, it should be difficult for the calves to get enough of it underwater.
But that isn’t the case. Whales have evolved massively. They have developed features that allow them to feed their calves underwater.
So, how do baby whales consume breast milk underwater? Well, shockingly, female whales boast nipples. They boast inverted nipples buried inside their mammary slits.
Calves are intelligent creatures and know how to get the milk from their mother’s inverted nipples. When they’re ready to suckle their mothers, calves go underneath the cows and nudge their mammary slits, an action that makes the nipples visible.
Once the nipples become visible, they can start sucking the breast milk and can consume a considerable amount of milk at a go.
A Handy Tip: Whales aren’t just sea mammals. They also boast the features that mammals possess. The whale cows have mammary glands, which are essential for milk production.
Can A Female Whale Feed Another Baby Whale?
You need to know that female whales share unique social and emotional relationships with their babies (calves). They form a strong bond with their calves, which could last for a lifetime.
But it’s not common to find whales feeding calves belonging to another whale or perhaps, a blue whale feeding the calves of a grey whale.
However, there are family groups of whales that are close. They can even take care of calves belonging to another whale. In these species or family groups, the female whales can feed the calves of other whales.
How Long Does A Baby Whale Take To Reach Maturity?
Scientists haven’t discovered much about whales’ behavior from birth to when they become sexually mature. It’s also important to know that how long it takes to reach sexual maturity varies from one whale species to another.
Blue whales can reach sexual maturity at 6 to 10 years of age. You can also identify a sexually mature blue whale via its length. That is when the males get to 23 meters in length, while the females are 24 meters.
For the humpback whales, things are a bit different. These species of whale reach sexual maturity at 5 to 14 years.
For grey whales, sexual maturity is attained between 6 to 12 years. But on average, some reach sexual maturity within 8 to 9 years.
How Long Does A Whale Hold Its Breath Underwater?
Whales have developed a unique ability, which enables them to hold their breath for a considerable period. Furthermore, how long whales can hold their breath differs from one whale species to another.
The killer whales don’t hold their breath for long. They can only do so for around 15 minutes before resurfacing to breathe in and breathe out via their blowholes.
The sperm whales can hold their breath for a more extended period. Why? They have to travel approximately a thousand meters down below in search of giant squid, which happens to be a delicacy for them. Thus, they can hold their breath for about 90 minutes.
The humpback whales can hold their breath for a maximum of 60 minutes (an hour).
The blue whales can hold their breath for about 90 minutes before resurfacing to breathe in some fresh air.
Adult grey whales can remain submerged in water and hold their breath for approximately 20 to 30 minutes.
So, what is a baby whale called? It’s called a calf. The female whales, cows deliver via live birth. They carry the baby whale (calf) in their womb and give birth after months.
Additionally, whales can give birth to just one offspring in the space of one to six years. So, these are some of the information about whales we would like you to know. They show how unique and diverse each whale species can be.