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Characteristics - Calves

Female whales usually become pregnant between spring and fall. The gestation (pregnancy) period normally ranges from nine to twelve months, although some toothed whale species, including the Sperm Whale, carry their young up to sixteen months. Most whales give birth to one calf, though twins are not unknown. Calves, of course, vary in size and weight. Blue Whale offspring can reach up to 23 ft. in length and weigh as much as 8 tons, making them the largest newborns in the world.

Calves are born with their eyes open, alert senses and enough swimming skills to follow their mothers immediately. A female whale has two nipples and produces large amounts of milk after giving birth. The largest baleen whales, Blues, can produce as much as 160 gallons of milk a day, and calves may double their weight in the first week. Lactation or nursing periods are variable, usually lasting about a year.


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