- Mission & Vision
- Our Core Values
- PWF in The Media
- Board of Directors
- Social Media Outreach
- Join our Mailing List
- Contact Us
- Research History
- Our Research Team
- Research Internships
- Current Studies
- Australia Research
- Abundance, Survival, Recruitment, and Realized Growth Rates of East Australia Humpback Whales
- Calving Rates and Intervals of East Australian Female Humpback Whales
- Connectivity and Interchange Between Humpback Whale Aggregation Areas along East Australia
- Match My Whale - a Humpback Whale Fluke Identification Project
- PWF’s Southern Hemisphere Humpback Whale Catalog
- Rate of Interchange Between East Australia and West Australia Humpback Whales
- Ecuador Research
- Hawaii Research
- Distribution and Accumulation of Marine Debris: Implications for Cetaceans
- Great Whale Count
- Hawaiian Humpback Whale Catalog
- Odontocete Distribution, Abundance, and Life Histories.
- Social Structure of False Killer Whales in Maui Four-Island Region
- Surprise Encounters with Humpback Whales
- Whale and Dolphin Tracker
- Other Projects
- Australia Research
- Donate to Help Fund our Research
- Donate Your Whale or Dolphin Photos
- Migaloo the White Humpback Whale
- You Can Help
- Become a Member / Renew Membership
- Donate Now
- Donation Specials
- Other Ways You Can Donate
- Adopt a Whale, Dolphin, Turtle or False Killer Whale
- Whale Regatta
- Maui Whale Festival Events
- Sponsor Run & Walk for the Whales
- Sponsor World Whale Day
- Made on Maui Fair Vendor Application
- Book an Eco-Cruise
- Choose PWF
- Ocean Store
The Story of Propeller
The humpback whale is the fifth largest of the world’s whales and is found in all of the oceans around the world. Scientists estimate that there are 20,000 humpback whales that spend their lives in the North Pacific. Of these 20,000 whales, there is one very special whale named Propeller named by a very special girl, Madison Peterson. Madison, along with her sister Kendal are showing definite signs of being future advocates for the oceans by opting to collect donations for their 9th birthday. They used those donations to name Propeller and the turtle, Cookie. Pacific Whale Foundation is grateful for their support and wish them the best in years to come.
Propeller was sighted on March 8, 2011 by naturalists and guests aboard Ocean Odyssey off the coast of Maui. Propellor was in a surface active pod of two animals demonstrating behaviors typical for competition pods - fluke or pectoral fin slapping, breaching, etc.
Whales are air-breathing mammals just like us. They must surface to breathe and being active at the surface makes breathing easier; however, humpback whales are very good at holding their breath with an average downtimes of about 15 minutes. It is obvious that whales are able to hold their breaths much longer than humans can due to their large lungs. When fully stretched, the lungs are long enough to accommodate a Cadillac stretch-limousine yet, their lungs are much lighter in weight than ours. A humpback whale’s lungs account for less than 1 percent of their body weight. In humans, the lungs account for 7 percent of the body weight.
The massive size of their lungs isn’t the only reason why whales have the ability to hold their breath so effectively. Marine mammals, including humpback whales, have a spongelike aggregation of convoluted blood vessels called the rete mirable around their heart and lungs. These spongelike networks are also found in the sinus cavities of the head and in sections of the whale’s pectoral fins and tail flukes. The rete mirable help conserve body heat and also help the whale store oxygen. It’s no wonder that the meaning of rete mirable is “the marvelous network.”
Humpback whales also carry a higher volume of blood in their bodies than we do. It’s believed that humpback whales have 750 gallons of blood flowing through their bodies, pumped along by the whale’s 450 pound heart! In addition, whales have high levels of red blood cells. Each of these cells is heavily loaded with hemoglobin, which binds oxygen in the blood. Whales also have high levels of myoglobin. This oxygen-binding molecule is found in muscle cells and gives the whales added ability to function during deep sea dives.
Whales are also very efficient at exhaling and inhaling. The speed of their exhalation is approximately 300 mph. In a single breath, a whale can rapidly expel 90% of the air in its lungs, replacing it with new, fresh oxygen-laden air. When the whale has finished its inhalation, it closes its blowholes tightly, to prevent water from entering its lungs.
Thank you for adopting Propeller. Your adoption helps support the ongoing research at Pacific Whale Foundation and our team will be keeping their eyes out for future sightings of Propeller.