This is a collection of whale drawings that appeared in the 1843 book “Whales” by Roger Hamilton.
Whales are one of the world’s special creatures they certainly invoke a sense of wonder and fascination as well as a sense of kinship for humans.
There are countless stories of people mobilizing and working together to rescue beached whales. They are unique beautiful graceful creatures that bond, play, sing and cooperate with one another. Whales are known to teach, learn, cooperate, scheme, and grieve.
Even though I grew up by the sea and have seen plenty of species of dolphins and sharks in the wild I’ve only ever seen one type of whale. That is the Beluga whale and was in the Norwegian Fjords.
It was certainly a magical moment and memory I treasure. Hopefully, I will get to see more species of whales in the wild in the future.
Fun Facts About Whales
- Whales are mammals of the open ocean; they feed, mate, give birth, suckle and raise their young at sea.
- Some species, such as the humpback whale, communicate using melodic sounds, known as whale song
- The blue whale is the largest animal that ever lived and can grow to 90 or more feet and weigh as much as 24 elephants.
- Whales have some of the longest life spans of mammals. Scientists estimate bowhead whales can live for more than 200 years.
- Whales can be found inhabiting all of the world’s major oceans.
- Male whales are called ‘bulls’. Females are known as ‘cows’. Newborns are called ‘calves’.
- There are 90 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises, known collectively as “cetaceans”.
The Vintage Whale Drawings
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1. Greenland Whale Drawing
This whale is more commonly known as the bowhead whale. The bowhead whale is the only baleen whale to spend its entire life in the Arctic and subarctic waters.
The species is named after its characteristic massive triangular skull, which is used to break through Arctic ice. The whale can live up to 200 years.
2. Great Northern Rorqual
Great Northern Rorqual is another name for the blue whale. Reaching a maximum confirmed length of 29.9 meters (98 feet) and weight of 173 tonnes (190 tons), it is the largest animal known to have ever existed.
If you ever visit London, a trip to the Natural History Museum is recommended. As you enter the museum you will see a full skeleton of a stunning 25.2-meter blue whale named Hope. It is suspended from the ceiling, giving visitors the opportunity to walk underneath the largest creature ever to have lived.
3. Skeleton of The Great Northern Rorqual
This is not the same skeleton of the blue whale in the Natural History museum as discussed above. This drawing is from 1837 and the blue whale skeleton in the museum was installed in 1891. It looks the same though!
That blue whale skeleton was bought by the museum for £250, it was from a beached whale in Wexford Ireland.
4. Lesser Rorqual
This is a whale drawing of a lesser rorqual more commonly known as Minke whale. Their common name comes from a Norwegian seaman named Meincke, who was said to have mistaken a minke whale for a much larger blue whale.
Besides humans the other main preditors of Minke whales are killer whales.
5. Sperm Whale Drawings
The sperm whale is the largest of the toothed whales and the largest toothed predator. They also have the largest brain of any creature.
Spermaceti (sperm oil), from which the whale derives its name, was a prime target of the whaling industry and was sought after for use in oil lamps, lubricants, and candles.
The famous fictional whale Moby-dick was a sperm whale.
6. Narwhal Whale Illustration
This whale is sometimes called the “unicorn of the sea” due to its large protruding tusk. Narwhals live in the Arctic Ocean and around the coastlines of Canada, Greenland, Norway and Russia.
7. Sowerby’s Beaked Whale
James Sowerby, an English naturalist, first described the species in 1804 from a skull obtained from a male that had stranded in the Moray Firth, Scotland, in 1800.
8. Bottlenose Whale Drawing
The hyperdooron is also known as the bottlenose whale. This is another species of beaked whale. Northern Bottlenose Whales are one of the deepest diving mammals known, able to dive as deep as 1453 meters.
9. Beluga Whale Illustration
The beluga whale is adapted to life in the Arctic, that is probably why it is shown in this whale drawing alongside a polar bear. The adult beluga is rarely mistaken for any other species because it is completely white or whitish-grey in colour.
They maybe slow swimmers but unlike most other whales they can swim backwards.
10. Long-finned Pilot Whale Drawing
Long-finned pilot whales are known as such because of their unusually long pectoral fins. Despite its common name, the long-finned pilot whale is actually a large species of dolphin.
11. Risso’s Dolphin
Risso’s dolphin is named after Antoine Risso, whose description formed the basis of the first public description of the animal.
12. Killer Whale Drawing
A vintage drawing of a killer whale also known as Orca. Despite its infamous name, wild killer whales are not considered a threat to humans and no fatal attack on humans has ever been documented.
They do however hunt seals, penguins, sea birds, and other whales and dolphins. They don’t have any known natural predators.
Killer Whales are in fact Dolphins. They are incredibly popular as they are the most widely distributed of all whales and dolphins, found in every single ocean.
If you enjoyed these vintage whale drawings by Robert Hamilton then you might enjoy some of the other sea life poster collections on Pictureboxblue. Such as the stunning sealife artforms of Ernst Haeckel, or the fantastical fish of Louis Renard and the Great Barrier coral reef illustrations.
There is also a wonderful collection of vintage octopus illustrations.
Saturday 15th of May 2021
These are so beautiful- ALL of them. Thank you so much for sharing with all of us!
Sunday 16th of May 2021
Thank you so much, glad you enjoyed them.
Wednesday 1st of July 2020
I love these images. Sadly most of the images are of captured whales , which makes sense because they couldn't create the drawings in the wild and get the entire impression of the whales. Thanks for posting at Funtastic Friday.
Wednesday 1st of July 2020
I know what you mean Michele it is sad that these are captured or beached whales but that was how they were painted in those days.