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ALL ABOUT WHALES!
What is a Whale? Whale Information Sheets Anatomy and Behavior Extreme Whales Whale Myths Whale Evolution Whale Classification Whale Glossary Whale Activities Whale Index
Whale Glossary
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U-Z

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SADDLE

The saddle is the grayish patch behind the orca's dorsal fin. It is unique to the individual orca and is used for identification.

SCRIMSHAW

Scrimshaw is intricate carving or engraving done on the bones, teeth, and tusks of marine mammals like whales (especially sperm whales) and walruses.

SEDIMENTARY ROCK

Sedimentary rock is rock that has formed from sediment. Most fossils are found sedimentary rock.


SEI WHALE

The Sei whale, Balaenoptera borealis, is a dark-gray, stream-lined baleen whale that is 39.5 to 52.5 feet (12-16 m) long. This rorqual whale swims in small pods of 3-5 whales and has very fine grey baleen that traps very small particles of food. It is also called the Sardine whale, the Pollack whale, the Coalfish whale, the Japan Finner, and Rudolphi's Rorqual. Large numbers of these whales were hunted for their oil and meat.

SEXUAL DIMORPHISM

Sexual dimorphism is the physical differences between the males and females of a species. Female baleen whales are larger than males. Male toothed whales are generally larger than females.
SHOCKED QUARTZ
Shocked quartz is quartz that has undergone deformation due to extreme pressure and heat. It has been found in the layer that marks the K-T boundary, leading credence to the Alvarez impact theory.
SIGNOR-LIPPS EFFECT
The Signor-Lipps Effect explains how a fossil record that appears to be a gradual extinction can actually represent a sudden extinction. If many organisms go extinct at the same time, the fossil record wouldn't necessarily represent the rarer species and the more common equally. The rarer species might disappear from the fossil record long before the time of extinction, simply due to chance.

SKIMMERS

Skimmers (also known as skim feeders) are filter feeders (baleen whales) which swim slowly through the water with their mouth open, letting water flow through their baleen plates, collecting food all the while. Right whales are skimmers; bowheads and sei whales are skimmers some of the time.

SONAR

Whales use sonar to sense objects. In sonar (echolocation), a high-pitched sound (usually clicks) is sent out by the whale. The sound bounces off the object and some returns to the whale. The whale interprets this returning echo to determine the object's shape, direction, distance, and texture.

SOUNDING

Sounding is when a whale dives deeply to escape danger.
SOUTHERN RIGHT WHALE
The southern right whales (Eubalaena australis) are baleen whales with large, relatively hairy heads, and a thick layer of blubber. They live at latitudes between 20°-55° but will occasionally venture down to 63°. They are an endangered species.

SPECIES

In classification, a species is a group of closely related organisms that can reproduce. A group of similar species forms a genus. In the scientific name of an organism, the second name is its species (for example, people are Homo sapiens - our species is sapiens).


SPECTACLED PORPOISE

A porpoise (a small toothed whale) from the Southern Hemisphere. It has distinctive markings around its eyes, giving it its name. Very little is known about this elusive dolphin.

SPERM WHALE

Sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) are the largest toothed whales. The sperm whale has a very large head, large teeth, are gray in color, average about 50-60 feet (16-18.5 m) long, and weigh about 15-20 tons. They are the deepest diving whales; they can dive down to more than 3,280 feet (1,000 m). They are bottom feeders and eat squid, fish, octopus, eels, etc. Sperm whales are the only great whales to have only one blowhole (instead of two). They produce ambergris. The sperm whale is a protected species after having been hunted for centuries. Moby Dick, the fictional whale, was a sperm whale.

SPOTTED DOLPHIN

Also known as the Pantropical Spotted or Brindled Dolphin, this small, toothed whale lives in tropical waters worldwide. This cetacean has a long, beaklike snout, a falcate (sickle-shaped) dorsal fin, and conical teeth. Classification: Suborder Odontoceti (toothed whales), family Delphinidae, Genus Stenella, Species attenuata.

SPOUTING

Spouting is when cetaceans rise to the surface of the water and forcefully exhale air in a misty stream (a spout) through one or two blowholes. Some cetacean spouts are low and bushy, some are very tall.

SPYHOPPING

Spyhopping is an activity in which the whale pokes its head out of the water to take a look around. Often, it spins around to see in all directions.

SQUID

Squid are mollusks and a favorite food of the sperm whale.

SYMBIOSIS

Symbiosis is a situation in which two dissimilar organisms live together. There are many types of symbiosis, including mutualism (in which both organisms benefit), commensalism (in which one organism benefits and the other is not affected), or parasitism (in which one organism benefits at the other organism's expense). Symbiosis used to be defined as a situation in which two dissimilar organisms live together to the benefit of both - this is now called mutualism. The word symbiosis means "living together"" in Greek.

SYNAPSID

Synapsids include the mammals, and extinct animals such as dimetrodon. They are distinguished by having a skull with a low opening behind their eyes.

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

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