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ALL ABOUT WHALES!
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Whale Glossary
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U-Z

Blowhole

Blowholes are a whale's nostrils. Blowholes are located on the top or back of the head.

At the surface of the water, whales open their blowhole(s) and exhale air explosively through their blowhole. This exhaled air from the blowhole is called the blow and usually forms a gusher or a bushy stream of misty air and vapor. This is immediately followed by inhalation of fresh air, and the blowhole(s) close again. (Blowholes are in a closed position when the whale relaxes.) This breathing pattern takes only a fraction of a second for small cetaceans (like dolphins and porpoises) but may take a few seconds for larger whales (like the large balleen whales).

Number of Blowholes: Toothed whales (like sperm whales, beluga whales, dolphins, etc.) have one blowhole. Baleen whales (like humpbacks, blue whales, gray whales, bowhead whales, etc.) have two blowholes, side by side.

Why do some whales have one blowhole and some have two?
Most mammals have two nostrils (blowhole equivalents). One of the nostrils (air-passages) of toothed whales evolved into their echolocation system (the sensing system in which they make and recieve high-pitched sounds in order to orient themselves, catch prey, and communicate), leaving them with only one blowhole.





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