Here are a few facts you may not have known about the first moments and early months in a whale’s life.
1. The gestation period of a pregnant female can last from 10 – 18 months depending on the species.
2. On average, a female will bear a single offspring every 1 – 6 years while she is fertile. In rare cases a female whale may carry twins but this is very uncommon.
3. Just like humans, the babies receive the nutrients they need through the umbilical cord.
4. Baby whales are usually delivered tail first in order to reduce the risk of drowning although sometimes they are delivered head first.
5. For the first few months of its life, the baby whale feeds by suckling milk from their mothers nipple. The milk can vary greatly from 35% – 50% fat – the high fat content means the milk can travel through water without breaking up. This is important as the mother sometimes shoots the milk into her baby’s mouth through the water.
6. A Blue whale calf may drink in excess of 50 gallons of milk per day and can easily gain 100 pounds or more each day in its first few months.
7. Whales have been seen suckling for as long as 24 months.
8. While the average age of maturity varies from species to species, most whales will mature between the ages of 7 and 12 when they can then begin mating and bear offspring of their own.
The Azores is one of the best places in the world to see whales and dolphins in the wild. See our great range of whale and dolphin watching holidays…