Whales - eating; bones

From: Dagmar Fertl (dagmar_fertl@hotmail.com)
Date: Fri Mar 31 2000 - 11:07:59 EST

Dear Dagmar,

Can you tell how whales eat and when they eat? I also wanted to know how
many bones does a whale has? If you have any other information can you
please send it to as soon as possible.

Parth Shah

It depends on whether you mean a toothed whale or a baleen whale. Toothed
whales use their teeth to grasp fish (and then swallow them whole), while
baleen whales strain their food out of the water. When they eat also depends
on what type of whale you are talking about. Some of the baleen whales are
known migrators, which means that they do seasonal eating...eating during
the summer and then migrating to warmer waters during the winter to calve
and mate. Toothed whales probably eat at all times of the day, but that also
depends on whether they are keyed in to movement of the deep scattering
layer, which moves upward during the night (meaning, there are some whales
and dolphins that feed predominantly at night because its easier to do so).

As for number of bones, that again depends on the type of whale you are
talking about. What ends up being a big difference is how many vertebrae
each species has. The Dall's porpoise is the whale species with the most
vertebrae (95!), the blue whale has 63...this compares to a dog with only
50. Other than that, I don't think I could tell you how many bones there
are in the body. That would be a better question saved for someone who
studies whale anatomy, maybe like a marine mammal vet.

Thanks for your questions,

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