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A whale was a large aquatic animal found in many oceans and seas across numerous planets in the Milky Way Galaxy. (TOS movie, novelization & comic adaptation: Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home; TOS novel: Probe)
On Earth, whales were classified as mammals of the cetacean order, and such were warm-blooded, breathed air, and produced milk to nurse their young. They first evolved around 11 million years BC and developed into two sub-orders: baleen whales and toothed whales. Baleen whales such as humpback whales were filter feeders and, instead of teeth, had huge plates of baleen hanging from their upper jaw which they used to strain plankton and shrimp out of mouthfuls of seawater. Toothed whales such as the sperm whale and orca did have teeth which they used to catch larger prey like squid and fish.
Whales were once hunted for their meat, blubber, baleen and, in the case of sperm whales, their ambergris. (TOS movie, novelization & comic adaptation: Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home; TAS episode: "The Ambergris Element")
In the 20th century, whales had been hunted to near extinction, and by the 23rd century, the great whales, including the orca, were extinct. However, due to some judicious time travel by Admiral James T. Kirk, Captain Spock and their crew, humpback whales were reintroduced to Earth in 2286. (TOS movie, novelization & comic adaptation: Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)
In the 24th century, some types of whale, including humpbacks, dolphins and Takaya's whales, worked with the Federation Starfleet to undertake various missions of science and navigation. (TOS short story: , "The Hero of My Own Life"; TNG references: Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual, Star Trek: The Next Generation USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D Blueprints)
Orders and speciesEdit
- Baleen whales
- Toothed whales
Whales, or their equivalent, were found on other planets besides Earth. Whales swam in the oceans of Tempe (FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge), and the Voroth Sea on Vulcan (TOS - Crucible novel: The Fire and the Rose).