Imagine spending your life in the water, where body heat is lost 25 times faster than on land!
What if you were a cetacean, a member of a group of water-based mammals that includes dolphins, whales, and porpoises? How would you keep warm?! Luckily, cetaceans and other sea mammals (such as seals and walruses) have a special layer of fat called blubber that provides the insulation they need.
Blubber is rich in fats and oils. In addition to helping keep sea mammals warm, blubber stores energy that animals can use at a later time!
You've probably noticed that the colder it gets outside, the thicker and warmer are the coats we wear. The same goes for sea mammals and the thickness of their blubber! Mammals living in cold water have a larger amount of blubber than those living in warm water. In fact, blubber can be one foot thick or more in large whales! However, thicker blubber doesn't necessarily mean a warmer sea mammal. It's the level of lipids (oil and fat) that makes a difference! The more oil and fat, the better the blubber is able to hold in heat!
by Mya Kagan (Whyzz writer)
Does blubber ever make sea creatures too hot?
Luckily not! When they need to cool off, dolphins, whales, and other sea mammals are able to release heat from their fins, where there is no blubber.
The oil from whale blubber was once used as fuel to light lamps, and later used to make products such as soap, candles, and cosmetics. However, over time, many countries of the world have found more animal-friendly ways to create these items, as the importance of protecting our planet's whales has become a priority!