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HOW DO: baleen whales eat?

Thu, 04/02/2020 - 13:45

Did you know that some whales don't have any teeth? Luckily for them, that doesn't mean they can't eat! In fact, they use a method called 'filter feeding', which doesn't require any chewing..

Minke whales and humpback whales are the most common whales in Reykjavík's waters and are cetaceans classified under the parvorder mysticeti, which is a scientific suborder of whales that have plates of baleen in the upper jaw. They are a part of the extant family balaenopteridae, or rorquals, which is by definition the largest group of baleen whales with longitudinal skin folds running from below the mouth to the navel, allowing the capacity of the mouth to expand greatly when eating.

To feed, baleen whales will open their mouths as big as they can and scoop up a big gulp of fish / krill mixed with sea water. They then push the water out, while trapping the prey behind the baleen plates which they then swallow whole. The size of these whales varies from 6 metres up to 30 metres, where the largest one, the blue whale, can eat close to 4,000 kg. of fish and krill a day - which makes this method quite convenient!

See video below of a minke whale filter feeding: