Eating habits

From: Orca Network (
Date: Fri Jan 17 2003 - 20:27:31 EST

  • Next message: Orca Network: "whale anatomy"

    What do whales specifically eat and how do they expel water after
    digesting their food?

    That's a little like asking, What do birds eat? There are somewhere between
    75 and 90 species of cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) and they
    eat a vast array of animal life from the oceans. Perhaps the only
    similarity in their diets are that they all eat marine animals of some kind.

    This question offers an opportunity to elaborate a bit on the eating habits
    of cetaceans. When the earliest cetaceans began to eat animals, rather than
    plants, perhaps 40-50 million years ago, they probably all ate about the
    same types of fish, amphibians, reptiles and birds. When they began to
    radiate into the varieties we see today - the baleen whales, the toothed
    whales, large whales, small whales, nearshore whales, pelagic whales, etc,
    they moved into new ecological niches to find food, adapting their bodies
    and eating habits rather than competing with one another for limited

    For example, 50-ton right whales eat huge swarms of tiny copepods, each
    about one-eighth of an inch across. Other baleen whales eat small fish such
    as sand lance and immature herring, or krill. Dolphins eat a wide variety
    of small fish and squid, while orcas may eat larger fish or even mammals,
    depending on their cultural traditions. Sperm whales and beaked whales dive
    to great depths to catch larger squid. These are but a few examples, so you
    see, there are many answers to your question.

    The answer to your second question (how do they expel water?) is much
    simpler. They urinate.

    Howard Garrett
    Orca Network
    Greenbank WA
    (360) 678-3451

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