Subject: Re: markings on whales

Kim Marshall (kimm@oceanalliance.org)
Mon, 24 May 1999 10:43:21 -0400 (EDT)

Question:
>How come some whales have teeth that look like brushes and is the whale shark
>is it part of the whale family?

Reply:
Larger whales like the blue, fin, right, minke, and humpback, instead of
teeth, have hundreds of plates called baleen hanging from the top of their
mouths.  Each plate has a hairy fringe that collects and strains out small
fish and shrimplike creatures called krill.  It is a perfect feeding system
for feeding on large amounts of food at one time.

Whales are mammals like you are but whale sharks are fish.  Where a whale
has to breath air at the waters surface, a whale shark is always submerged
because they do not breathe air from the surface like marine mammals
because it has gills. Whale sharks are filter feeders and they use their
gills to extract oxygen from the seawater and to filter tiny planktonic
organisims to feed on. The gills have fine gill rakers to strain the
plankton from the water. To find about more about whale sharks contact the
Shark Research Institute in Princeton, NJ (609) 921-3522. Try finding them
by searching the title on the internet.
Thank you! Kim



Kim Marshall-Tilas
Whale Conservation Institute/Ocean Alliance
191 Weston Road
Lincoln, MA  01773
(781) 259-0423
fax: 259-0288
website: http://www.oceanalliance.org