The different species

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Credit-Niue Tourism Office

Whales, dolphins and porpoises are mammals, they breathe air and they suckle their young with milk. However, they are highly adapted to life in the ocean. There are two main groups – the toothed whales (Odontocetes), and the baleen whales (Mysticeti) whose teeth have been replaced by baleen, a hairy material through which they strain their food from the seawater.

The so-called Great Whales are all baleen whales, except for the sperm whale, which is by far the largest of the toothed whales. Most baleen whales undertake extensive annual migrations between cold-water feeding grounds in the summer and warm-water tropical breeding grounds in the winter (with exception of the Bryde’s whale and omura’s whale). Whales that over-winter in the Pacific islands generally migrate to Antarctic waters in the summer. During its 50-plus year lifespan, a Pacific island humpback whale will swim the equivalent distance of the moon and back.

YOW mini logo If you want to learn more about the different species of whales, our partners have developped species guides :