marine life of Namibia
A whale is a mammal. A warm-bloodied animal with a backbone that breathes air and suckles their young. They need air to breathe, so they must be able to hold their breath for a long time underwater. Some of the larger species can hold their breath for over an hour!
Whales use sound to help them find their way, mainly because it is so dark underwater. They emit sound waves which bounce off other objects and if it detects an echo, it will know that there is an another body in the way. This is called echolocation.
Unlike other mammals, whales do not have fur to keep them warm. They have a thick layer of fat under their skin called blubber. Flippers help them steer through the water and their enormous and powerful tails propel them along. The bones in the flippers are the same as the bones in a human hand, a confirmation that their ancestors once lived on land.
At the top of their head are blowholes, or nostrils. When whales exhale, air is blown out of their lungs, causing a fountain to spurt out of the blowhole. This is not water, but in fact a cloud of steam, similar to a human breathing out on a cold morning!
Whales (and dolphins) are known as cetaceans, which are fish-shaped sea mammals. There are believed to be around 79 species of cetaceans around the world, of which some 38 have been observed in the waters of southern Africa. The coastal town on Walvis Bay in Namibia, translates to Bay of Whales, paying tribute to the numbers of whales that were once found of the coastline. Whales are divided into 2 suborders:
- Odontoceti: These are toothed whales, which includes dolphins and porpoises. They are much more common than baleen whales, accounting for some 69 of the species. Unlike most other mammals, toothed whales only have the one set of teeth for life and they are all the same shape. All toothed whales feed on fish or squid and are all capable of echolocation.
- Mysticeti: These are known as baleen whales, such as the blue whale, but do not have teeth as with the suborder Odontoceti. Their teeth are in fact baleen, which is whalebone, a fingernail-type tissue that hangs in fronds (leaf-like) from the top jaw. The outer edge is smooth, unlike the frayed inner edge. This acts as a mesh to filter out smaller items. As baleen whales take in water to the mouth, it sieves out the krill through the baleen by pushing the water out of the closed mouth using the tongue. They usually feed in the upper layers of the ocean, which is where their type of food lives. Unlike toothed whales, baleen whales have 2 blowholes on top of the head to breath. As they feed nearer the surface for their food, they do not seem to use echolocation.
You can learn more about different species of whale by visiting the following:
- Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus)
- Bryde's Whale (Balaenoptera edeni)
- Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus)
- Gray's beaked whale (Mesoplodon grayi)
- Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)
- Layard's beaked whale (Mesoplodon layardii)
- Minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)
- Pygmy sperm whale (Kogia breviceps)
- Sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis)
- Southern Right Whale (Eubalaena australis)
- Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus)
5km from the town center and within walking distance of the lagoon
A business hotel close to the town center
This colonial style lodge on the Walvis Bay Lagoon is the ideal place from which to explore the central Namibian coast
A bright & cozy lodge overlooking the lagoon and close to all of the cities amenities
A small, upmarket, owner managed guest house offering excellent views over the Walvis Bay lagoon
Well situated with views over the lagoon and close to the ever popular Raft Restaurant
Adjacent to a light house on a remote peninsula near the town of Walvis Bay. Pelican Point Lodge offers luxurious accommodation in a tranquil, remote & unspoiled environment
A friendly & relaxing eight roomed guest house