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Wisdom Wednesday | Whales

Shore Buddies Wisdom Wednesday 03/31/2021

Two whales swimming side by side. Photo by Amy Mercer.

Image by Amy Mercer

There are two main groups of whales: baleen whales and toothed whales. Baleen whales have fibrous baleen plates in their mouths that allow them to filter larger quantities of krill, plankton, and crustaceans. These plates are made out of keratin, which is the same protein that forms human fingernails and hair. Feeding techniques between species of baleen whales can vary. For example, some gulp large amounts of seawater into their mouths, trap their prey in the baleen plates, then release the seawater. Others swim with their mouths slightly open which allows sea water to flow through and some swim sideways along the seafloor while sucking up mud and water to filter their food from it. Toothed whales have teeth which allows them to feed on larger prey including fish and squid. The number and type of their teeth varies between species. Some have only two to four teeth while others may have around 50 teeth.

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