Whales as oceanic engineers

On this page, you can find short numeral descriptions of all large whale species existing. It shows a picture, the global distribution, the total numbers, what they feed on, their impact on our world, and our impact on these animals. When you want to learn more about a specific whale species just click on the name and you will be directed to a specific page with a larger description. 

Picture of species 

Global distribution 


Role in the ecosystem 

Threats & protection 

Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus)  

Pre whaling time 340,240 

Current: 4,272 (2001) 

Life span: 90 years 

The blue whale mainly feeds on krill.

Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) 

Pre whaling 231,700 

Current number: 33.000 – 35.000 worldwide (2011)

Calving every 2-3 years 

Life span 50 years 

They feed on small fish and krill 

Small fish and krill 

Further information 

Brydes whale (Balaenoptera edeni)

Growing number. Species with highest potential 

Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus)

1970’s  1.900.000 

Recent 300,000

Life span 90 years 

Sperm whales feed on large squids and octopuses. 

Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalis) 

North Atlantic, North Pacific, Southern Hemishpere

119.000 (probably less now)

They have a lifespan of 85 – 90 years.

They migrate. Feed mainly on krill and other crustaceans, but also on fish and squid.

Entanglement, vessel strikes, lack of prey due overfishing, pollution.

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