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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

F


FALCATE

Sickle or hook-shaped. Some whales, like orcas, have a falcate-shaped dorsal fin.

FAMILY

In classification, a family is a group of related or similar organisms. A family contains one or more genera (plural of genus). A group of similar families forms an order.

FAST ICE

Fast ice is ice that is attached to the shore, usually found in polar seas.

FILTER FEEDER

Filter feeders are animals that eat by sieving through lots of sea water and straining out tiny bits of nourishment. Baleen whales are filter feeders, obtaining krill by sieving water through their baleen. Some filter feeders are skimmers (feeding as they swim), some are gulpers (taking occasional gulps).


FIN

A fin is a part of aquatic animals that helps them swim, steer, and balance in the water. Many whales have dorsal fins.


FIN WHALE

Balaenoptera physalus is a very large, slender baleen whale, the second largest animal in the world. Fin whales are about 70+ feet (22 m) long and have 55-100 long throat grooves. They eat mostly krill (and some fish, especially during winter), sieving them through 260-474 fine baleen plates. Fin whales have a flattened, V-shaped head, and are black to gray with a white belly and lower jaw. Fin whales are highly migratory; they migrate to high, cool latitudes in spring for rich feeding grounds and return to southern temperate waters for mating and calving in fall and winter. Pacific, one in the North Atlantic, and one in the southern hemisphere; they do not interbreed. Sometimes called the "greyhound of the sea" because of its fast swimming speed, the fin whale can swim up to 23 mph (37 km/hr) in short bursts.

FISH

Fish are scaly, cold-blooded animals with fins that get their oxygen from the water using gills. Primitive fish evolved during the Ordovician Period (505 to 438 million years ago), long before the whales appeared.


FLIPPER

Flippers are wide, flat forelimbs that many marine animals use for swimming. Whales and other cetaceans have flippers.

FLIPPERING

Flippering is when a cetacean slaps the water with a fin while it is swimming on its side.

FLOE

A floe is a sheet of floating ice, usually found in polar seas.

FLUKE

A fluke is a single lobe of a whale's tail.

FLUKES

The horizontal tail of cetaceans (whales, porpoises and dolphins) consists of two flukes. Flukes have no bones and are all muscle. Cetaceans swim by moving their flukes up and down in the water.

FLUKING

Fluking is when a whale raises its tail out of the water as it begins a dive.
Food chain

FOOD CHAIN

A food chain is is the sequence of who eats whom in a biological community (an ecosystem) to obtain nutrition. A food web is all of the interactions between predators and prey in which plants and animals obtain food in an ecoystem. The chain starts with plants or other autotrophs (organisms that make their own food from light and/or chemical energy) that are eaten by herbivores (plant-eaters). The herbivores are eaten by carnivores (meat-eaters). These are eaten by other carnivores. When any organism dies, it is eaten by tiny microbes (detrivores) and the exchange of energy continues.

FOOT PRINT

A foot print is the patch of calm water that remains on the surface after a whale dives.

FOSSIL

Fossils are mineralized impressions or casts of ancient animals and plants. Fossils have been found on every continent on Earth.

FUSIFORM

Fusiform means shaped like a spindle, tapering gradually at bone ends.

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