Whale (origin Old English hwæl from Proto-Germanic *hwalaz) is the common name for various marine mammals of the order Cetacea. The term whale sometimes refers to all cetaceans, but more often it excludes dolphins and porpoises, which belong to the suborder Odontoceti (toothed whales). This suborder also includes the sperm whale, killer whale, pilot whale, and beluga whale. The other Cetacean suborder, Mysticeti (baleen whales), comprises filter feeders that eat small organisms caught by straining seawater through a comblike structure found in the mouth called baleen. This suborder includes the blue whale, the humpback whale, the bowhead whale and the minke whale. All cetaceans have forelimbs modified as fins, a tail with horizontal flukes, and nasal openings (blowholes) on top of the head.
Whales range in size from the blue whale, the largest animal known to have ever existed at 30 m (98 ft) and 180 tonnes (180 long tons; 200 short tons), to various pygmy species, such as the pygmy sperm whale at 3.5 m (11 ft). Whales collectively inhabit all the world's oceans and number in the millions, with annual population growth rate estimates for various species ranging from 3% to 13%.
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded by Asia—including India, after which the ocean is named—on the north, on the west by Africa, on the east by Australia, and on the south by the Southern Ocean (or, depending on definition, by Antarctica.)
As one component of the World Ocean, the Indian Ocean is delineated from the Atlantic Ocean by the 20° east meridian running south from Cape Agulhas, and from the Pacific Ocean by the meridian of 146°55' east. The northernmost extent of the Indian Ocean is approximately 30° north in the Persian Gulf. The ocean is nearly 10,000 km (6,200 mi) wide at the southern tips of Africa and Australia, and its area is 73,556,000 km² (28,350,000 mi²), including the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf.
The ocean's volume is estimated to be 292,131,000 km³ (70,086,000 mi³). Small islands dot the continental rims. Island nations within the ocean are Madagascar (the world's fourth largest island), Comoros, Seychelles, Maldives, Mauritius, and Sri Lanka. The archipelago of Indonesia borders the ocean on the east.