What is a Baby Whale Called?

June 1, 2023

When you see a baby whale out on the water it is always a special sight. They are a joy to watch and the most adorable mammals on the planet! But what exactly is a baby whale called?

A baby whale is called a calf and female whales are cows or cowes. A male whale is a bull and whales that are part of a family group are called a pod.

The calf grows inside its mother’s uterus for 10-18 months, and is fed nutrients through her umbilical cord. Twins are rare in whales and when a calf is born it is delivered tail first to avoid drowning. Baby whales nurse from their mothers’ nipples and drink rich milk that helps them grow thick layers of insulation in their bodies called blubber.

A calf will follow its mother on its annual migration between summer feeding grounds and winter calving grounds. Scientists believe that the mother remembers where and when she has found plenty of food, and passes this information on to her calf to ensure a safe journey.

After birth, a calf will swim close to its mother in a group of whales called an echelon, taking advantage of the hydrodynamic advantage of riding in her wake. Just like a cyclist who rides at the front of a pack, this position is more efficient than those in the back. It is also believed that this behavior is an expression of love and protection.


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