Animals / Mammal Facts / Cetacea - Marine Mammals / Baleen Whales - World's Largest Creature, Filter-Feeders

Baleen Whales - World's Largest Creature, Filter-Feeders

deep sea


The baleen whales are grand mammals, also called great whales. They have baleen plates that they use as filters to catch their food instead of using teeth like most other whales (and mammals). The baleen whale family also houses the largest known whale - the Blue Whale. The group also includes humpback, gray and minke whales. The female baleens tend to be much larger than their male counterparts.



whale anatomy


baleen filter


Whale Watching?

If you decide to take a trip out in the great ocean expecting to find one of these grand creatures look for something weighing nearly 400,000 lbs (180,000 kg). Can you imagine something weighing that much? Of course they are not all that big, for example, a small minke whale might weigh less than 9,000 lbs (4000 kg).

During the warmer months of the summer they are always feeding and eating, to build up some extra fat for their migrating efforts. When they decide to migrate they are focused on the trip rather than nourishment so they don’t eat while on the move.


breaching whale


Which Way Mates?

As the baleen whales are traveling through the great waters of the ocean some may wonder how they steer and find their way around. They use two really awesome pectoral flippers in the front of their massive bodies to steer. So where are their brakes so they can slow and stop? Well, the huge tail which is in two sections is called a fluke. This helps to slow down their bodies like a tail on a plane when landing. Either way you look at it, they have a large steering column and braking system.


mother and calf


Baby Whales

The female baleen whale is usually pregnant for ten to fourteen months. They then will give birth, usually in the warmer waters, and the offspring can weigh anywhere from 500 lbs - 4,000 lbs (230 - 1,800 kg) at birth. The bigger the species of baleen whale the bigger the babies, so the blue whale is the largest of them all and sets the records.
The baleen whale has been swimming around the ocean for hundreds of years. They have evolved into a whale of great proportions that feeds on the plankton of the sea. While there are many variations of whales in the sea, there really is none greater than the baleen whale. Be sure to have that camera ready for a great photo opportunity if one should jump out of the water (breach the surface)!




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