Mammal Mania: Cetacean Marathon

Cetacea is an infraorder of aquatic mammals made up of dolphins, whales, and porpoises.

Though other mammals, such as the cheetah, are faster sprinters, cetaceans are great long haulers. They inhabit all of the world’s oceans as well as some rivers, and many have vast ranges due to their migratory habits. An eastern gray whale, for example, traveled 14,000 miles from Russia to Mexico, and then back again! This set the record for the longest known migration of any mammal.

Besides containing most of the world’s fully aquatic mammals, the cetacean infraorder is also marked by high levels of intelligence and social organization, as well as enormous size. The largest cetacean is also the largest known animal to have ever existed – the blue whale. The largest confirmed blue whale weighed in at 173 tonnes and had a length of 29.9 meters (98 feet).

The smallest cetacean is the vaquita, a porpoise with a maximum body length of 150 meters (4.9 feet) for females and 1.4 meters (4.6 feet) for males. Still on the larger side as far as mammals go.

Cetaceans are often grouped by their teeth… or lack there of. Odontoceti are toothed whales, porpoises, and dolphins, while Mysticeti are filter feeders who use baleen to engulf mass amounts of krill, small crustaceans, small fish, and sometimes even an unlucky bird!

If you had to guess a cetacean’s closest family member, a seal or manatee might come to mind. However, these animals are not actually very closely related. The closest relative to a cetacean is actually a hippo. Nature is wild!

The marathon is upon us! Think of the endurance of a migratory whale, and gear up for 24 hours of cell tracing. Starting at 10:00 AM ET on 8/23, we’ll trace a whole cell to completion (and maybe more!). Bonus & cell renaming information can be found in your in-game notifications.

Swag: The player who has earned the most points during the marathon (not the most cubes) wins the choice of a notebook or a mug, plus a sticker/magnet set! Second and third place will each also win a sticker/magnet set.