The various types of whales we are familiar with fall under the Cetacea family, within which there are an estimated 84 different species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises. But what is the most common whale? Let’s take a minute to explore some of the most common whales that populate our seas, and can be spotted at various points year-round across United States coasts.
Common whales include the blue whale, which can be identified by its deep blue coloring visible when submerged under water. The blue whale is incredibly popular because of its size. Of the common whales, the blue whale is the largest animal known to exist on earth. These majestic beings can grow to be an astonishing 100 feet in length and weigh as much as 150 tons. Blue whales will typically spend their feeding months in cooler waters near the poles, migrating towards warmer, tropical waters to mate. These common whales can often be spotted mating, socializing, and giving birth in the southern Gulf of California, making this a popular location for whale watching excursions.
Not only is the blue whale the largest animal, it is also one of the loudest. The moans and whines of a blue whale, used to communicate between pods amongst other purposes, can be heard miles away. A type of baleen whale, these common whales do not have teeth. Instead, they possess bristles with which they catch prey such as krill.
Another of the common whales is the sperm whale. Among the toothed common whales in existence, the sperm whale is the largest, able to reach lengths of up to 67 feet and weighing between 35 and 45 tons. Sperm whales received their name due to the mysterious substance that fills their heads called spermaceti. Thought the exact purpose of spermaceti is not fully known, it may help regulate the whales’ buoyancy.
These common whales are known for its ability to dive to depths as deep as 3,280 feet in order to locate and feed on squid. During dives of this length, the sperm whale can hold its breath for up to 90 minutes. When feeding, these common whales will use echolocation in order to locate their prey. The loudest animals in the world, the sperm whale utilizes a series of clicks to hone in on food.
The grey whale is one of the most common whales found in the Pacific Ocean, often spotted off the West coast of the United States. These common whales can be identified, of course, by their dark grey coloring. Grey whales can grow to lengths upwards of 50 feet, typically weighing in around 40 tons when fully mature. Grey whales are known to have one of the longest migratory journeys of all whales, traveling between anywhere between 9,000 and 16,000 miles from feeding grounds to mating grounds. The journeys of these common whales will usually begin in October, as they swim form the Chukchi and Bering seas and head towards the Baja peninsula of Mexico and southern Gulf of California. This incredible migration will typically last between 2-3 months.
These common whales can live up to 70 years, and require 13.5 months for full gestation of their offspring. At one point in time, this incredible species was endangered, having been hunted during the whaling era for its oil. Since then however, the grey whale population has made a very strong recovery, and is now one of the most common whales.
Another of the world’s most common whales is the humpback whale. A humpback whale can grow to be between 40 and 60 feet in length, and weigh up to 44 tons. These unique sea mammals maintain a varied diet, consuming everything from herring to salmon, krill to mackerel, and other small prey. Like the blue whale, the humpback whale is a baleen whale, meaning it does not have any teeth. Instead, it uses bristles, similar to the bristles found on a comb, to capture its prey and swallow them whole.
Humpback whales are a common whales known for their beautiful whale songs. Astonishingly, the songs heard from humpback whales can have great similarities to music composed by humans. Their songs can be heard from miles away, and humpback whales have even been found to sing in harmony with one another, even when separated by long distances. Another unique characteristic of the humpback whale in addition to their whale songs is their great athletic ability. Despite their size, they are capable of hopping and leaping out of the water continuously.
To view these common whales up close, we invite you to join Harbor Breeze Cruises for an unforgettable whale watching excursion. Year-round, we host individuals and families as they glimpse the many majestic beings of the sea with expert guidance from our experienced captains.