How does a whale use its blowhole? Print E-mail
Whales breath air at the surface of the  water by taking quick breaths through their blowhole.  A flap of skin controlled by muscles opens the blowhold when the whale breathes and closes when the whale goes underwater. Whales can hold their breath from 7-30 minutes - sperm whales for up 2 hrs!  They usually take about 1-2 breathes per minute while traveling at
the surface.  Humans take about 15-18 breathes per minute.  Each breath is less than 1/2 a second but the whales and dolphins can absorb much more oxygen into their systems then we can by storing it in their muscles.

Because they use force to get all the old air out, they exhale almost 90% of their old air, (humans only expell about 12-18% after each breath), there is a blast of warm air that is heated by the lungs.  When this moist, warm air hits the outside air it becomes a vapor.  This is what you see when the whale spouts, and each whale spouts a different way. Right whales have a v-shaped spout, humpback whales have a bushy spout that goes up to 12 feet high and fin whales have a long, thin spout that goes up to 18 ft. in the air. Toothed whales only have one blowhole. The sperm whale's blowhole is on the left side of its head and blows at a 45 degree angle.
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