Whales are mammals that live in the oceans and seas and are one of the most fascinating groups of animals inhabiting our planet. Unfortunately, their population is drastically declining due to numerous threats. In order to draw attention to this problem and to emphasize how important these animals are for the balance of ecosystems, World Whale Day is celebrated. This year it fell on February 18. This is an excellent opportunity to educate the public about whales and promote conservation efforts.

Some interesting facts about cetaceans for World Whale Day

Cetaceans are the largest creatures that have ever inhabited our planet and are divided into two groups – toothfish and whalefish. The former have teeth, and their food source is fish and cephalopods. This includes dolphins, orcas and porpoises, representing the cetaceans in our native Baltic. Fishbones, on the other hand, are devoid of teeth. Instead, they have horn-shaped plates that, like a sieve, filter food from the water. These include the largest representatives of cetaceans, commonly called whales, such as the blue whale, which can reach up to 33 meters in length and 190 tons in weight.

Whales, although they live their daily lives in the water, are mammals that have developed mechanisms that make them similar to fish. They breathe air through nostrils located at the top of their heads, but would not be able to survive on land, as their great mass would make movement impossible. They have mammary glands, allowing them to feed their young, and they are warm-blooded. An interesting fact is that the whale’s heart beats only 9 times a minute. By comparison, an elephant’s heart beats 25 times per minute, a horse’s heart 45, a giraffe’s 65 times, and a human’s 60-70 times per minute.

Whales are also long-lived. Blue whales can live up to 90 years, while sperm whales can live 70 to 80 years. This is due to the fact that, apart from humans, they have no enemies in the environment. And it is as a result of human activity that the whale population has dropped to just 1 percent in half a century. (compared to the size before the period of massive fishing). This is one of the reasons why World Whale Day was established, with the aim of raising public awareness of the importance of these animals in the environment and promoting their protection.

Why celebrate World Whale Day?

Whales play a key role in marine ecosystems. Their feces contain large amounts of iron, which is vital for life in the oceans. Among other things, it stimulates the growth of phytoplankton, microscopic organisms that are the basis of the food chain in marine ecosystems. Phytoplankton, by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, help mitigate climate change.

Therefore, it is worth publicizing the celebration of World Whale Day and reminding people of the need to protect these aquatic mammals. They have a huge impact not only on local ecosystems, but also on global climate processes, and a drastic decline in their populations could lead to serious consequences for the entire marine environment and humanity.

How is World Whale Day celebrated in Hawaii?

Hawaii, the site of the most lavish World Whale Day celebrations, was not chosen at random. Every winter near the second largest island in the Hawaiian archipelago, Maui, you can watch flocks of humpback whales mating there and welcoming their young to the world. That’s why the Maui Whale Festival, organized by the Pacific Whale Foundation, has been held in South Maui for more than 30 years. Its climax is a parade of cetaceans.

The festival is not only an opportunity to admire the majestic aquatic mammals, but also to support efforts to protect them. Anyone can join the action, as the Pacific Whale Foundation, celebrating World Whale Day, has announced Race for Whales 2024, which takes place from February 1 to 29, 2024. In doing so, it threw down the challenge of beating the 1 percent. the route (30 miles) that humpback whales travel to reach their breeding grounds in Hawaii. You can take part in the race anywhere, documenting the kilometers covered using apps such as Strava. Each additional kilometer converts into dollars that will contribute to the foundation’s account.

How to celebrate World Whale Day in Poland?

Although in Poland we can’t count on such lavish festivals as in Hawaii, let’s not forget about World Whale Day. All the more so because the Baltic Sea is home to one of the representatives of this order – the porpoise. In celebration of World Whale Day, you can join the action organized by the Pacific Whale Foundation or support other organizations working to protect these animals.

Also learn more about these fascinating marine mammals and, with your daily actions, contribute to improving their living conditions. Limit the use of single-use plastic products and try to keep them out of the seas and oceans. If you must already use plastic, make sure it is properly recycled.

Also get your friends in on the action by telling them about World Whaleday Day on your social media, using the hashtag #worldwhaleday in your posts.

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