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Dolphins and Cetaceans glossary
Category: Animals and Nature > Dolphins and cetaceans
Date & country: 03/06/2011, US
Words: 133


Acute
Pointed.

Adult
A sexually mature animal which is (or is almost) fully grown.

Amphipod
A small, shrimp-like crustacean that is a food source for many whales

Anchor patch
A variable grey-white anchor- or 'W'-shaped patch on the chests of some smaller cetaceans.

Anterior
Located toward the front.

Baleen Whale
A suborder of whales with baleen plates instead of teeth, members of the Mysticeti suborder.

Baleen/Baleen plates
In some whales, the fibrous plates in parallel rows on either side of the upper jaw used to filter small prey from the water.

Band
A pigmented diagonal or oblique line.

Bar
A short, broad, pigmented vertical line.

Barbel
A fleshy projection of skin, often threadlike, usually found near the mouth, chin, or nostrils.

Beach-rubbing
Rubbing the body on stones in shallow water near to the shore.

Beak
In many toothed whales, the elongated forward portion of the head, consisting of the rostrum and the lower jaw.

Benthic
Living on or associated with the ocean bottom.

Blaze
In cetaceans, a streak or "smear" of light pigmentation on the upper side of the front portion of the body.

Blow
In cetaceans, the expulsion of air at the surface through the blowhole(s), or nostril(s), during exhalation; also called the spout.

Blowhole
In cetaceans, the single or paired respiratory opening.

Blowhole crest
An elevated area in front of the blowholes of many large whales, which prevents water from pouring in during respiration.

Blubber
An insulating layer of fat beneath the skin of most marine mammals

Bow-riding
Riding on the pressure wave in front of a ship or large whale.

Brackish Water
Slightly less salty than sea water.

Breach
To leap through the water surface. -- Breaching - The act of leaping out of the water and crashing back with a splash.

Bulbous
Rounded; resembling a bulb in shape.

Bull
Adult male cetacean.

Calf
A baby cetacean that is still being nursed by its mother.

Callosity
An area of roughened skin or horny growth on the head of a Right Whale.

Cape
In some cetaceans; a dark area usually on top of the head or on the back in front of the dorsal fin.

Cardiform Teeth
Sharp teeth that are closely set in rows and look like the bristles of a brush.

Caudal
Petaining to the tail.

Caudal Fin
The fin on the hindmost part of the body.

Cephalic
Pertaining to the head.

Cetacean
A marine mammal belonging to the Latin order Cetacea, which includes all whales, dolphins and porpoises.

Circumpolar
Ranging around either pole.

Compressed
Flattened from side to side so that the animal is higher than wide.

Continental Shelf
The submerged, relatively flat and gently sloping part of a continent extending from shore to about 100 fathoms.

Cow
Adult female cetacean.

Cusp
A pointed projection on a tooth.

Decurved
Curved downward.

Depressed
Flattened from top to bottom so that the animal is wider than high.

Dermal Ridge
A ridge of skin.

Dolphin
A relatively small cetacean with (usually) a curved dorsal fin; also used interchangably with 'porpoise' as a general term.

Dorsal
Pertaining to the back or upper surface of the body.

Dorsal Fin
The fin along the midline of the back.

Dorsal ridge
A hump or ridge which takes the place of a dorsal fin on some cetaceans.

Echolocation
A system used by cetaceans to navigate, orientate and find food by way of sending out signals and interpreting the returning echoes.

Emarginate
Notched, but not deeply forked.

Falcate
Strongly curved or lunate.

Fathom
A unit of measurement used to indicate water depth, and equal to 1.8m (6 feet).

Flipper-slapping
Raising a flipper out of the water and slapping it onto the surface.

Flippers
In cetaceans, the forelimbs.

Flukes
In cetaceans, the horizontally positioned tail fin, resembling the tail of a fish, but not as vertical.

Fluking
The act of raising the flukes into the air upon diving.

Forked
Shaped like a fork; cleft or sharply angled.

Fusiform
Spindle-shaped, tapering toward ends.

Herd
A co-ordinated group of cetaceans (term is most often used when referring to baleen whales).

Homocercal Fin
A caudal fin with lobes of about the same size.

Juvenile
A young cetacean that is no longer a calf but is not yet sexually mature.

Keel
A sharp ridge usually located just in front of the flukes.

Krill
Shrimplike crustaceans occurring in huge numbers in the open seas, and eaten by baleen whales.

Lobe
A rounded projection.

Lobtail
In cetaceans, to slap the flukes on the water's surface, making a loud splash.

Locally common
Uncommon or absent over most of range, but relatively common in one or more specific localities.

Logging
Lying still at or near the surface.

Lunate
Crescent-shaped.

Mass stranding
The stranding of three or more cetaceans.

Median Fins
The unpaired fins - dorsal, and caudal.

Melon
In many toothed whales, the bulging forehead, often containing oil.

Mesopelagic
Living in the midwaters of the open ocean.

Migration
Regular journeys between one region and another, usually associated with breeding and feeding cycles, or seasonal or climatic change.

Mysticeti
A suborder of the Order Cetacea, containing baleen whales only.

Nape
The area along the back between the head and the dorsal fin.

Nasal
Pertaining to the nostrils and the surrounding area.

Nostril
Referring to the physical hole where breathing takes place (in most cetaceans this is referred to as a blowhole.

Notch
V-shaped cut or indentation.

Oblique
Slanting.

Occiput
The hindmost edge of the top of the head, where the head joins the nape.

Oceanic
Anywhere in the ocean beyond the edge of the continental shelf.

Odontoceti
A suborder of the Order Cetacea, containing all toothed whales, dolphins and porpoises.

Pack-ice
A mass of floating pieces of ice driven together to form a solid layer.

Pantropical
Occurring globally between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.

Parasite
Organism that benefits from another organism by harming it.

Pelagic
Pertaining to or living in the open waters of seas or large lakes.

Permanent ice
Core areas of ice around both poles which do not melt.

Plankton
Microscopic plants and animals that drift near the surface of open waters.

Plicate
Folded, grooved, or wrinkled.

Pod
A co-ordinated group of cetaceans (term is most often used when referring to large, toothed whales).

Polar
Of the area around the poles.

Population
Group of animals from the same species that is isolated from other such groups and interbreeds over time til this group differ noticeably from other groups.

Porpoise
A small cetacean with a stocky body and an indistinct beak; also used interchangeably with 'dolphin' as a general term.

Porpoising
Leaping out of the water whilst moving forward at speed.

Posterior
Located toward the rear.

Predorsal
Pertaining to the area on the back between the snout and the dorsal fin origin.

Purse Seinging
A fishing method where by a large net is used to encircle a school of fish. The net is slowly pulled in, forcing the fish into a smaller and smaller area until finally the net is hoisted aboard ship. A method which often ensnares dolphins who happen to be in the area feeding on the same fish the fishermen are attempting to catch.

Range
The natural distribution of a species, including migratory pathways and seasonal haunts.

Recurved
Curved or bent backward.

Resident
Stays in one area all year round.

Rooster Tail
Forward-angled spray of water formed when certain small cetaceans surface at high speed.

Rorqual
A baleen whale of the genus Balaenoptera (some experts include the Humpback Whale in this category)

Rostrum
In cetaceans, a forward extension of the upper jaw. Adj. rostral.

Saddle or Saddle Patch
A blotch or patch of pigment that extends across the midline of the back and onto the sides.

Sargassum
A free-floating brown seaweed that occurs in warm marine environments.