Why does the whale have a hole on its back?


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published by Hugo Plassot-Moizan on June 06, 2022 at 2:49 p.m.

We ask ourselves questions in a single day. Questions, questions and more questions. In some cases, the answer can be found easily and quickly, whether alone or with friends. But at other times, it’s much more complicated. Even if we do a lot of research, we can’t find answers to our questions. Every day, the Net Court offers you unusual information on a question that you probably ask yourself on a daily basis. You can then share your knowledge with your loved ones during a family dinner, for example.

After wondering, why do we call menstruation a woman’s period? We are now interested in wildlife and more specifically in the largest mammal on the planet: the whale. We will learn more about this famous hole on its back and its usefulness in the life of the animal.

Marine Mammal

Why does the whale have a hole on its back?

You can see it when it comes out of the water, the whale is a magnificent animal. It is the largest mammal that the planet can know at present. Unfortunately, several of these species are threatened. Indeed, this colossal animal contains several organs which are used in different industries (health, beauty, food, etc.).

If we know that they don’t have teeth like us, but a kind of huge brush that filters food passing through its huge mouth, there is an element that intrigues many people. It’s about hole the animal has on its back and from which liquid can be seen escaping when it rises to the surface. But what is it? We explain all this to you.

This little hole, we call it the vent. With us, we would call it the nostrils. This is the orifice located on the animal’s head, which allows it to expel inspired air. The position of the vents at the top of the skull allows these animals to not lifting your head completely out of the water to breathe. It is through this organ that whales expel their famous water jetgas from their breathing mixed with water droplets.

During inspiration, the air passes through the vent, the nasal passage, the larynx, the trachea, and finally the lungs. On exhalation, it’s the reverse path! In large rorquals, for example, the inspiration-expiration cycle only takes one to two seconds. In addition, whales have the ability to renew 90% of the air from their lungs with each breath. By way of comparison, humans renew only 10 to 15% of the air.

There are other species that have this kind of characteristics, among them dolphins, porpoises, killer whales, belugas and minke whales but which are difficult to observe on the water. On the other hand, we can see very well the breath of the great whales. Its shape even makes it possible to distinguish the different species! Baleen whales have two blowholes while toothed whales have only one. the second vent having been modified in order to be used for echolocation. When cetaceans are diving, the vents are kept closed by fibrous plugs. To breathe, whales must consciously contract their muscles in order to open them.

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