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Southern right whale
Southern right whale
Scientific classification
Included groups
Cladistically included but traditionally excluded groups
a Sperm whale fluke
Dutch whalers near Spitsbergen, by Abraham Storck, 1690

Whales are a group of cetacean mammals that live in the ocean. Like other mammals, they breathe oxygen from the air, have a small amount of hair, and are warm blooded.

There are two basic kinds of whales, and about 100 species.

People use the word whale in different ways. Some use it for all Cetaceans including dolphins and porpoises. These people say that dolphins and porpoises are also whales, because they are also Cetaceans. Others separate out the dolphins and porpoises: common English-speaking people have never called them or thought of them as whales unless they are very large. Actually, there is no clear line between whales and dolphins.

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