Do Whales Have Gills? The Unexpected Answer

  • By: Alex
  • Date: July 29, 2022
  • Time to read: 3 min.

Though they spend their whole lives in the water, whales are not fish. Fish have gills that extract oxygen from the water around them and pass it into their bloodstream. Whales, on the other hand, breathe air through their blowhole.

Though they spend their whole lives in the water, whales are not fish. Fish have gills that extract oxygen from the water around them and pass it into their bloodstream. Whales, on the other hand, breathe air through their blowhole.

But how did they evolve to become air-breathers?

The most likely explanation is that ancestors’ whales had lungs and spent some time on land, like early apes or elephants.

But as they returned to the ocean, they lost their legs, and eventually, their lungs adapted to filter oxygen from the water.

Over time, these adaptations allowed whales to stay underwater for more extended periods and travel to greater depths.

Today, some whale species can remain submerged for up to two hours and dive as deep as 3,000 feet!

Why whale does not have gills?

Why whale does not have gills?

Whales do not have gills. Instead, they have something called a blowhole. A blowhole is a hole in the top of the whale’s head that it uses to breathe. When a whale comes to the water’s surface, it blows air through its blowhole.

This helps the whale get rid of water that might have gotten into its lungs when swimming. Whales also use their blowholes to make a loud noise called echolocation. Echolocation is how whales communicate with each other and find food.

How long do whales hold their breath?

How long do whales hold their breath?

Most people have heard that whales are mammals and must come to the surface to breathe air through their blow holes. What is lesser known, however, is just how long these impressive creatures can stay underwater before coming up for a breath.

On average, whales can hold their breath for approximately 60 minutes, but some species can remain submerged for up to 90 minutes.

This is possible due to their large lung capacity and Myoglobin, an oxygen-storing protein – levels are much higher than those of humans.

While 90 minutes may not sound like a very long time, it’s imposing when you consider how active these animals are while underwater.

Can a whale breathe on land?

Can a whale breathe on land?

The simple answer is no, but there’s more to it.

Whales are air-breathing mammals, meaning they must come to the water’s surface to take a breath. However, their bodies are specially adapted for life in the ocean.

They have large lungs that allow them to hold a large amount of air, and their ribs are fused together, preventing them from expanding their chest cavity and taking a deep breath on land.

In addition, their blowholes are located on the top of their head, allowing them to breathe while swimming. For all these reasons, whales are unable to live on land.

Do whales suffocate or drown?

It’s a common misconception that whales suffocate or drown when they beach themselves. While it’s true that the whale’s weight, usually supported by water, can crush its organs or cause it to suffocate, this is not the most common cause of death for beached whales.

The thick fat that keeps them warm in the water can cause them to overheat on land. Dehydration and drowning in rising tides are also often cited as causes of death for beached whales. In reality, these majestic creatures can only survive for a few hours on land before succumbing to their injuries.

big whale

FAQ:


Do blue whales have gills?

Gills are not present in blue whales; they can hold their breath for up to 90 minutes while migrating.

Do beluga whales have gills?

No, beluga whales do not have gills. Like humans and other terrestrial mammals, beluga whales extract oxygen from the water through their lungs. They can hold their breath for up to 15 minutes while driving.

Do sperm whales have gills?

No, sperm whales do not have gills. Sperm whales can hold their breath for up to 45 minutes while driving.

Do humpback whales have gills?

No, humpback whales do not have gills. Humpback whales can hold their breath for up to 60 minutes.