Cetacean might not be a common word, but in the animal world it’s an important one. It comes from the Latin Cetus, which means large sea animal, and Ketos which means a sea monster. The word is used to describe some of the most fascinating marine mammals; Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises.
The variety of these marine mammals is vast, with well over 80 species recorded and classified throughout the world. They are often named and classified on their appearance, or the oceans, seas, and rivers in which they are found. Each species of Whale, Dolphin or Porpoise will have its own preferred habitat, diet, distinctive features, and colourings, along with behavioural and mating patterns.
Some of the mammals are giants, others are slim and slender, and some prefer arctic waters, while others inhabit tropical seas. Then there are the fast swimmers, the sociable creatures, and even some species that have become popular through appearing in films and television programs.
There are some common features that run through all the Cetacean family though, including the single dorsal fin found on many species, the powerful tail which helps them swim, and the blowholes which they use to breath when they hit the surface. They also fall into either toothed or baleen species, with the baleen plates used to filter food instead of teeth.
Some of the most popular species of Whales and Dolphins, and those that are often sighted during Dolphin Encounters, or Whale Watching trips in the wild include the Bottlenose Dolphin, Common Dolphin, The Minke Whale, and Killer Whale or Orca. These and many other species have been sighted during encounters, which could range from a days ‘Whale Watching’, to a full blown Dolphin Watching/Wildlife holiday. Encounters commonly take place off the Irish, Cornish, and Scottish Coasts in Great Britain, much of the American and South American Coastline, Spain and the Canary Islands, and Queensland in Australia. It’s also possible to view Dolphins and Whales in captivity through Marine Parks, Zoos, and ‘experience days’ which can involve handling and swimming with Dolphins. Anyone who has been on any Whale or Dolphin Encounter, or even seen them in captivity, will tell you that they are fascinating creatures, and that learning more about them, and the environment they inhabit is very worthwhile. Some Whales and Dolphins are endangered species as well, so it’s important to raise awareness of these Cetaceans, to ensure we conserve and protect them in any way we can for many years to come.
The other pages on this website will delve further into the different species of Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises that inhabit the rivers, seas, and oceans of the world, which includes species you can find in many of the world’s oceans, and those you will only find inhabiting certain areas. The site will also touch on Whale Watching Trips and Dolphin encounters, where you can visit to take part in them, how they are eco-tourism experiences, and what you can expect from either type of encounter.
Exploring the world of these marine creatures is an experience, and an education not to be missed, and with so much variety in the Whale and Dolphin families, it’s something that will keep you occupied and entertained for many years to come.