All whales, dolphins and porpoises belong to an order called cetaceans. Totaling approximately 78 species, cetaceans are divided into either of two groups: the mysticeti and the odontoceti, or baleen whales and toothed whales, respectively.Know More
Baleen whales are so named because of their overlapping layers of baleen plates, which are composed of a fingernail-like substance called keratin. After the whale ingests a huge volume of seawater, they use the baleen as sieves for collecting microscopic organisms as the seawater is ejected from the whale's mouth. Baleen whales are the largest of all cetaceans, representing 11 distinct species across four families. These families include the right whales, pygmy right whales, gray whales and rorqual whales.
In addition to the presence of baleen, mysticeti whales can be differentiated from toothed whales by identifying the presence of two blowholes on top of the head. Toothed whales have only one blowhole.
Toothed whales are so named because they have teeth, as opposed to baleen. Depending on the species, toothed whales can have as many as 250 individual teeth. Toothed whales are more diverse than baleen whales, representing 67 distinct species. These species include such cetaceans as the killer whale, beluga whale and the bottlenose dolphin.Learn more in Marine Mammals
Whales can eat anything from plankton to krill, fish, giant squid or other whales. What a whale eats depends on whether it has teeth or baleen.Full Answer >
Right whales primarily feed upon zooplankton, a type of plankton consisting of mostly microscopic live animals. These include tiny crustaceans such as copepods and krill; pteropoda; free-swimming sea slugs and sea snails; and cyprid, which are the mobile larvae of barnacles.Full Answer >
Whales perceive sounds in a much higher frequency than humans are able to hear, often around 120 kilohertz. Whales hear sounds as vibrations in the water around them.Full Answer >
Whales reproduce by going through a courtship phase and mating. The male and female position themselves belly to belly and line up their reproductive organs.Full Answer >