Monday, May 08, 2006
"Fat" -Illustration Friday
Artist's Note: When I first read the topic I thought that because it is so similiar to a previous word (gluttony)I might use something from then. (Quite frequently I come up with several pieces for each prompt on Illo-Friday. My goal is to finish at least two.) Then I remembered why I got involved with this was to build my portfolio. So here you have an original.
Whale Blubber- Essential Fat
Whales are warm-blooded mammals that can survive in water temperatures as frigid as the low-40s F. How do they manage to stay warm, even in the ice-cold waters of the North Pole and Antarctica? By wearing a thick layer of fat-called blubber-just beneath the skin.
How does the whale acquire this fat layer? Being mammals, whales suckle their young. A baby gray whale, for example, may drink up to 30 gallons of its mother's milk-which has the consistency of soft margarine-every day! An adult gray whale, on the other hand, may eat tons of crustaceans during a given feeding period. All of this intake is necessary to not only provide the whale with the energy it needs to swim great distances and dive to incredible depths, but to help maintain an essential layer of fatty insulation.
What is unique about baleen whales?
Baleen whales are some of the largest animals on earth. Characteristic baleen plates and paired blowholes help distinguish baleen whales from toothed whales. All cetaceans have a long, strong diaphragm which allows them to rapidly exhale as they surface and quickly inhale before submerging. The phrase "Thar she blows!" was coined by whale hunters who spotted the column of vapor as the whales exhaled.
Why were baleen whales hunted?
Early humans hunted whales for food and oil. But in the 19th and early 20th centuries, before the invention of plastic, whales were hunted commercially for their baleen or "whalebone" as well as for their oil. The whalebone was used to make women's corsets, buggy whips, and umbrella ribs. Most baleen whale species remain severely depleted because of this commercial whaling.
Baleen refers to the filtering device they have in their mouth in place of teeth. The Blue Whale, The Bowhead Whale, The Bryde's Whale, The Fin Whale, The Humpback, The Minke Whale, The Pygmy Right Whale, The Right Whale, and The Sei Whale are all baleens.
source: U.S. Department of Commerce/NOAA/NMFS/AFSC/NMML and Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)- "Secrets of the Ocean Realm."
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