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Whales and dolphins in Australian waters - Department of the ...

Whales and dolphins in Australian waters - Department of the ...

Whales and dolphins in Australian waters - Department of the

Echolocation The toothed whales have developed a remarkable extra sense, which they use for locating food and for navigation. A variety of sounds are produced underwater by moving air between air-spaces or sinuses in the head. When swimming normally the echoes from these sounds provide information about bottom topography, shorelines, underwater obstacles, water depth, and the presence of other animals. When hunting or examining objects at close range a series of clicks is produced, which are conducted and focused through the melon, a specialised fatty structure in the skull. Sounds reflected back from objects are thought to be collected by an oil filled channel in the lower jaw and conducted to the middle ear. Echolocation is extremely sensitive and may provide whales with a three dimensional view of their world. It is also possible that very high intensity focused bursts may be used to stun or disorient prey. The wide variety of whistles, clicks, groans and other noises produced by many toothed whales are thought to be important in communication between individuals. Threatened Whale Species Five whale species – the humpback, blue, fin, sei and southern right – are considered at risk and are listed as threatened species by the Australian Government. Recovery Plans have been developed for these species. A Recovery Plan aims to ensure the long-term survival in the wild of a threatened species by identifying the key threats to the species, and by setting out management actions necessary to stop the decline and aid in the recovery of the species. Further Information HOW CAN YOU HELP PROTECT WHALES AND DOLPHINS? • Please don’t litter – rubbish ends up in our oceans and items such as plastic bags or old fishing line can be deadly to our marine animals. • If you are out on the ocean and you see whales or dolphins keep your distance – 100m away is a safe place to stay. • If you see an injured or stranded animal call your state’s conservation agency. More detailed information about whales and dolphins is available at www.deh.gov.au/whales or by contacting the Community Information Unit by emailing ciu@deh.gov.au whalesanddolphins in australian waters Dolphins, porpoises and whales all belong to a group of marine animals known as cetaceans. Like all mammals, whales, dolphins and porpoises are warm-blooded, breathe air, and suckle their young. What types of whales are there? The 85 known species of cetaceans in the world are placed in two main groups: 1. There are 13 known species of Mysticetes or baleen whales, including the largest whales such as the blue whale, humpback whale and southern right whale. Instead of teeth, these animals have long horny plates edged with bristle like fibres called baleen which they use to strain mouthfuls of water for small marine animals. 2. There are 72 known species of toothed whales or Odontocetes, including the beaked whales, killer whales, pilot whales, sperm whales, dolphins and porpoises. Where are whales found around Australia? At least 45 species of whales and dolphins are found in Australian waters, from the warm tropical waters of northern Australia to the cooler waters around the southern coastline A number of species travel south of Australia where the colder sub-Antarctic waters and icestrewn waters off the Australian Antarctic Territory provide food and habitat. Blue whales are the largest animals to have ever lived on Earth. They may grow to 33 metres in length and can weigh over 180 tonnes. FS.WR.01.06

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