Whales are mammals, which means they breathe air, have live births, nurse their young, and are warm blooded. Unlike most animals whales are conscious breathers so they cannot afford to sleep for long. The humpback whale can communicate with melodic sounds sometimes called a whale song. Other whales use clicks. Toothed whales can generate 20,00 watts of sound that can be heard for many miles.
Whales have two suborders. Baleen whales are the largest and filter plankton from the water and have two blowholes. Baleen whales include the blue, humpback, bowhead, and minke whale. Toothed whales are smaller with only one blowhole and include sperm, killer, beluga, and pilot whales.
Whaling was the biggest threat to the whale population. At its peak in 1846, 70,000 people were employed in the whaling industry. During the 20th century more than 2 million were taken and many populations were severely depleted. Commercial whaling was banned in 1986.