Baleen Whales

A baleen whale is a certain type of whale which is characterized by having baleen plates for filtering food from water, rather than teeth. Baleen is an elastic, horny substance growing in place of teeth in the form of thin, parallel plates on eachside of a whale’s mouth. The following whales are all baleen whales.

The Blue Whale


Blue whales are one of the most commonly known whales on the face of Earth. If you’re reading a book about whales in general, or a picture book about whales, its very likely that the pictures in the book are of blue whales. This is probably due to the fact that they are one of the more common whales, like the humpbacks, and possibly because they are the largest creatures on Earth. The average adult will weigh about 100-120 tons, and the average calf (that’s what baby whales are called, just like cows) weighs about 2.5-4 tons at birth. That’s one big baby! The record size for a blue whale was a female who spanned 110 feet long and weighed 209.5 tons. That’s the weight of about 27 elephants, and 3,810 people! Not only are blue whales the heaviest whales, they are also the longest. The average female adult will reach 85 feet, which is about half of a football field, even more, and the average male will reach 80-82 feet. The average calf will span anywhere between 17-19 feet, or four grand pianos placed next to each other. An adult blue whale’s tongue can weigh as much as an elephant and an entire football team could stand on it! The heart of a blue whale is about the size of a VW Beetle car and weighs up to 1,000 pounds, making it even heavier. The average female is pregnant for 10-13 months. A baby blue whale drinks about a bathtub full of its mother’s fat-laden milk (it is 40-50% fat) a day, gaining 8 pounds an hour, until  they are 50 feet long and 22.5 tons! Blue whales diet mainly on krill, though the occasional shrimp is not uncommon. Unfortunately, many of these whales never get to grow to their full size due to whaling. The blue whales’ main threat is pollution, whaling, and loss of food due to commercial fishing. Though these whales naturally live to be 80 years old or more, they often don’t make it to 40 because of humans and their meddling. The blue whale population has dropped below 5,000 in the last few years, and are now classified as endangered. if you would like to “adopt” a blue whale, head over to the WWF (World Wildlife Foundation)’s website right here. I highly suggest it!

The Humpback Whale


Humpback whales are another type of very commonly known whale. Chances are that in your book about whales in general, or your picture book about whales, there are pictures of humpbacks right alongside those of blue whales. Humpback whales are one of the more populous whales, with around 18,000 to 20,000 whales remaining. In the summer, you can find humpback whales in Alaska, Cape Cod, Vancouver, and British Columbia, though they often move to warmer places like the Dominican Republic, the Turks & Caicos Islands, Hawaii, Costa Rica, and Tonga in the winter. Humpback whales are not nearly as large as the blue whales, as they only weigh about 23-30 tons as adults and 1-2 tons as calves. For those of you who do not already know, 1 ton is 2,000 pounds. If you want to convert anything, here is a link to a great convertor (just remember that tonnes and tons are not the same thing. Tons are short tons on most convertors). Humpback whales also tend to be short compared to blue whales, only spanning 35-50 feet, or about 20 dining room tables put next to each other, as adults and 13-16 feet as calves. humpback whales have one of the most unique tails of all creatures, as they are like our fingerprints in that no tail has the same print. Not unlike their baleen brothers, humpback whales’ main predators are humans. Their biggest threats are fishing nets, human disturbances, and being tangled in marine pollution, like those plastic soda holders. Often while diving, humpback whales will encounter human snares and such with little chance of avoiding them. As graceful as they are, it is still difficult to quickly swim 9 inches in the opposite direction of a fishing trap when you weigh 30 tons, and humpback whales often drown because of this. Although they can stay underwater for 30 minutes, they often dive for much shorter periods of time, usually 5 to 10 minutes. After this, the whale becomes uncomfortable and often becomes weaker over time due to lack of air. That;s where the blowhole comes in! But if a humpback is stuck underwater in a drop, it has no way of collecting air. Even water mammals can drown!




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