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Types Of Whales

A Quick Guide to the Different Types of Whales

All of the types of whales in the world can be divided into two categories or classifications. These are toothed whales and baleen whales, which instead of teeth, have baleen or hard, bone-like plates in their mouths. Toothed whales include Killer Whales, Sperm Whales, Beluga Whales, dolphins and porpoises, among others.

Some large, toothed whales, such as Killer Whales, can feed on large prey like sea lions or seals, but most eat fish and squid or shellfish from the ocean floor.  Every different species of toothed whales has a different number of teeth. The Sperm Whale is the biggest toothed whale, and they have between thirty and sixty teeth. The interesting thing about the Sperm Whale’s teeth is that they are only in its bottom jaw. The largest tooth among whales  belongs to the Narwhal Whale and is up to 2.7 meters long. Strangely enough, the tooth is not used for feeding. It is a spiral tooth that grows into the upper lip. Scientists think it may have to do with male hierarchy.

The baleen whales family includes many of the most popular types of whales. They eat plankton and krill. The filter-feeders are in this group. They swim with their mouth open taking in water and then the plankton stays inside while the water is returned to the ocean. One of the most well-known of the baleen whales is the Humpback Whale. They grow up to fifty feet long and weigh around forty tons, or 80,000 pounds. The “hump” is their dorsal fins, which look like the hump of a camel on their back. They eat plankton, krill and small fish like herring, lance and mackerel.

The Blue, Finback, Minke, and Pilot are all among types of baleen whales. In total, there are eleven species. The Blue Whale is the largest whale in the world, growing up to one-hundred feet long and weighing over one-hundred tons. They eat three or four tons of krill a day. Krill are an invertebrate, similar to a shrimp. The Blue Whale is the largest mammal and its heart is said to be the size of a small automobile. They are ten years old before they reach sexual maturity.

Fin Whales are also quite large, growing to be around ninety feet long and weighing seventy-five tons. Their diet also consists of krill, plankton, and small school fish, such as herring, lance and mackerel. They eat up to three tons of food every day. Fin Whales are very fast for their size, reaching speeds of up to 23 mph.

Minke Whales are one of the smaller baleens growing to around thirty feet long. They weigh in the neighborhood of ten tons. They live in all the oceans of the world and are one of the few whales whose numbers are still listed as “abundant” on endangered species lists. They eat krill and the small schooling fish, like mackerel. Pilot Whales are also one the smaller size whales, being twenty feet long and weighing 1-½ to 2 tons. They feed on squid but will eat the smaller schooling fish on occasion.



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