Minke whales have two V-shaped blow-holes on their heads. They can hold their breath up to 15 minutes.
Minke whales are very shy and typically swim alone. But they are also curious and can be spotted swimming up to ships and looking up at people.
The killer whale is the minke whale’s natural enemy.
Minke whale pregnancies last 11 months long and calves spend up to 5 years with their mothers.
Minke whales live up to 50 years of age.
Minke whales are the second smallest whales on the planet, measuring only 24 feet in length and weighing just under 4.3 metric tonnes. This is just a fraction of the world’s largest whale, the blue whale, which swims at 98 feet in length and weighs 180 metric tonnes.
Adult elephant seals can grow up to 20 feet (6 meters) in length and weigh 8800 pounds (3991 kgs). That’s almost twice the length & weight of a midsize truck or SUV!
Elephant seals can hold their breath underwater for more than two hours straight.
Elephant seals get their names from their large trunk-like snouts called “proboscis”. These appendages grow only on males and develop during puberty. Males use this appendage during mating to attract females (using a series of snorts & grunts) and as shields to protect themselves during fights with competing males.
Elephant seals produce concentrated, jelly-like urine when there is a lack of drinking water in their surroundings. This concentrated urine helps them conserve water in the body for later use. But the moment they drink water, their urine becomes normal and more liquid-like.
Beachmasters are the alpha adult males in a group of male elephant seals. They are the ones who are the strongest of the lot and who possess the best spots on the beach. It is important for the beachmasters to create a big space on the rookery (the beach selected for breeding) if they wish to attract & control a large harem of females.
Elephant seals usually mate a few months before winter. This is to ensure that the pups are born during the ideal breeding season when the weather isn’t too cold or too hot. But, females have what is called a “delayed implantation”.
The normal gestation period for elephant seals is 9 months. However, due to the delayed implantation it takes up to 12 months for pups to be born. So, if the weather is not right for the pups’ birth or males haven’t established their territories on the rookery in time, this delayed implantation gives them sufficient time to create or wait for better breeding conditions. This is nature’s way of ensuring greater number of live births during the harsh winter.
Video: Epic fights and all the excitement of the breeding season
Also called Little Blue Penguins (due to their blue-coloured feathers), Fairy Penguins are the smallest penguin species in the world, standing at 1 foot in height at adulthood. That’s around the same height as a 2-year old baby.
Fairy Penguins are the only penguins not found in Antarctica. They live in New Zealand, Australia, Chile and South Africa.
Fairy Penguins are monogamous during each breeding season and seldom mate with multiple partners during the same season. But once the chicks leave the nest, they may choose a different partner for the next season.
Although they aren’t on the endangered species list, survival of the Fairy Penguins is solely dependent on humans. If it weren’t for the protected lands set aside for them, native predators would have long made this penguin population extinct.
Fairy Penguins can be quite the gluttons, eating up to 2 kilograms of fish and krill a day. That’s a lot of food for birds their size.
Fairy Penguins moult every February to grow thick, new waterproof feathers. Since they won’t have any feathers at this time, they are trapped on land unable to swim and unable to hunt for food for a week. To overcome this, these penguins eat double the usual quantity and put on weight to survive the week of starvation.
Newly hatched fairy penguin chick at Cincinnati Zoo