Whales are the world's largest mammals. They roam throughout all of the world's oceans, communicating with complex sounds.
Here are some things you might not know about whales.
1. Two types of whales
Whales are divided into two groups: baleen whales that have baleen plates in their mouth, which they use to filter out and consume huge quantities of krill and plankton and toothed whales who have teeth which enable them to feed on larger species such as fish and squid.
2. Dolphins are also whales
Dolphins and porpoises are considered toothed whales. The other species of toothed whales include the sperm whales, beaked whales and the unicorn of the sea, the narwhal.
3. New Zealand whales
A number of whale species are found in New Zealand waters, some year-round, some, like humpback whales, just passing through on the annual migration between Antarctica and the tropics. Noted resident populations include Bryde’s whales in the Hauraki Gulf and sperm whales in Kaikoura.
4. Unknown numbers
Most of the whale species found around New Zealand are listed on the Threat Classifications system as 'data deficient', meaning they are seldom seen, but not enough is known about them to determine how at risk they are. This includes the blue whales that spend part of each year off the coast of Taranaki.
New Zealand would have more whales if we hadn’t been actively involved in commercial whaling from the 1820s. The last whaling station closed in 1964, mostly because we’d run out of whales. The practice didn’t become illegal until 1978.