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Baleen Whales
text and photos courtesy of US Dept of Commerce


 

Humpback Fluke
Blue Whale Spouting Humpback Spy-hopping Gray Whale Fin Whales
Humpback Breaching

What should I know about baleen whales?

Baleen whales are the largest animals on earth, yet they feed on some of the smallest animals in the ocean. There are 12 baleen whale species divided into 4 families:  right, pygmy right, gray and rorqual whales.

What are right whales and pygmy right whales like?

Right whales were called the "right" whales to catch by early hunters because they are large, swim slowly, have long baleen plates, contain lots of oil, and float when killed.  Right whales do not have dorsal fins or throat grooves.  The taxonomy of this family is rather confusing, but currently there are three species of right whales: the Northern right whale, Southern right whale, and  bowhead whale.  The pygmy right is in a separate family although it shares similar characteristics to right whales.

What are gray whales like?

Gray whales have their own taxonomic family, genus, and species. They are the most coastal of the baleen whales and are often found within a few miles of shore.  Each year gray whales migrate between their summer feeding grounds in the Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort Seas to their winter breeding grounds off Baja California, Mexico.  This is one of the longest migrations by a mammal species.

Gray whales are gray in color and their skin is encrusted with barnacles and a unique species of small crustaceans known as "whale lice."  They have 2-3 short throat grooves and instead of a dorsal fin they have a low dorsal hump followed by 6-12 "knuckles" or bumps.  Whalers used to call gray whales "devil fish" because of their aggressive response to being hunted.

What are rorqual whales like?

Rorqual whales are relatively streamlined in appearance and have pointed heads and small pointed fins.  They can be distinguished from other whales by many (25-90) deep groves along their throats that expand when they feed.  There are 8 species of rorqual whales:  the humpback whale, fin whale, Bryde's whale, blue whale, northern minke, antarctic minke, Eden's ("small-type") whale.

Thrgrv2.jpg (8475 bytes)

A rorqual whale's throat grooves.

Would you like to know more about baleen whales in general?

Baleen Whales
Baleen Whales. gray whale calf, San Ignacio Lagoon region, Mexico
A Sea World Education Department Resource. Contents. ...

The Tales of the Whales - Baleen Whales
... Characteristics - Baleen Whales. Baleen whales, made
up of 10 species, plus a recently described ...

Discovering Whales - The Humpback Whale
The Balaenidae Family - Mysticeti Baleen Whales. The
baleen apparatus is at its most extravagant ...

Baleen Whales
... What should I know about baleen whales? Baleen whales are the largest animals on
earth, yet they feed on some of the smallest animals in the ocean. There are ...

CETACEA: Whale Species
... Baleen Whales (Mysticeti) The suborder Mysticeti contains four families: Eschrichtiidae,
Balaenidae, Neobalaenidae and Balaenoptidae. Between them, the ...

Virtual Antarctica Science: Whales and Dolphins
... Baleen Whales. Baleen whales are usually larger
than toothed whales, and feed on plankton ...

Discovery Online -- Baleen Whales
... Relive our recent expedition exploring another group of
baleen whales -- the Humpbacks of Madagascar. ...

Yahooligans! - Science and Nature:Living Things:Animals:Mammals: ...
... Sites: Baleen Whales - visit this Sea World site for information on behavior, diet,
life span, scientific classification, and much more. ...

Baleen whales - Enchanted Learning Software
... BALEEN WHALES: Suborder Mysticeti, Baleen Whale Anatomy:
Label Me! Label baleen whale anatomy Answers. ...

WDCS - The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society - ...
... Species Guide - Mysticetes (Baleen Whales). Blue whale
Description - Distribution and ...

CCS - Stellwagen Bank - Whales: descriptions of baleen ...
... other areas indicate that their diet may be more diverse than other local baleen
whales, taking advantage of whatever is abundant in a given area or given time ...

WhaleTimes:Fishin' for Facts-Gray Whales
... the Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort Seas. Gray whales, like other baleen whales, migrate
to warmer waters during the winter months. The eastern Pacific stock of ...

World Wide Fund for Nature - WWF : Virtual Wildlife - ...
... whales, dolphins and porpoises. The largest of the baleen whales, the Blue Whale,
may reach more than 30m long and weigh as much as 130 tonnes. That’s as much ...

Yahoo! Science > Biology > Zoology > Animals, Insects, and ...
... Yahoo! Directory Whales > Baleen Whales all of Yahoo! just
this category Advanced Search Help. ...

Cetaceans
... order Cetacea. Mysticeti, Baleen Whales. Baardwalvissen.
Bartenwale. Bardehvaler. Hetulavalaat. Bardvalar. ...

Baleen Whales
Student Activities. Home Table of Contents Help Credits
Baleen Whales. Sea World's Information ...

Voyage of the Odyssey - www.oceanalliance.org
... Baleen whales. suborder: Mysticeti (Greek, mystax - moustache; ketos - whale),.
These whales have evolved with baleen plates instead of teeth. The plates line ...

Ocean Planet:How Deep
... language or behavior? - Master's Degree thesis by Kimberly Amaral; Baleen Whales
Information Booklet: A Sea World Education Department Publication; WhaleNet a ...

Humpback Baleen Whales, Cetacean Regulars at Hervey Bay
... mammals. More specifically, they are baleen whales which means they feed by straining
their food from seawater through a series of plates on their upper jaws. ...

World Wide Whales - Absolutely Awesome !
... Whales (Odontoceti) are predators eating a variety of marine wildlife, wheras Baleen
Whales (Mysticeti) have a filter called a baleen used to sieve tiny food ...

Endangered Marine Mammals: Baleen Whales
... Endangered Species. Baleen Whales. ...

Food Web - Baleen Whales
Baleen Whales. Baleen whales are secondary consumers, like herring. They feed by
filtering plankton out of the water. Due to most baleen whales' huge size, they ...

Whales
... and maintain a constant, warm internal body temperature. The cetaceans - toothed
and baleen whales - evolved from land mammals millions of years ago and have ...

WEBQUEST-WHALES
... habitats of toothed whales. Name and locate the various ocean habitats of baleen
whales. Create five questions for your group to answer. Do a scale drawing of ...

 


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