Subject: Re: <no subject>

Greg Early (
Wed, 01 Dec 1999 09:49:16 -0500


Good question.  Most of the really big whales (with the exception of sperm
whales) have baleen instead of teeth.  As you probably know baleen whales
use their baleen to feed by taking in a mouthful of water, then using their
tongue to squirt the water back out through the baleen.  The food is
strained out of the water, so the whale eats the food and not the water
(sort of like if you took a mouthful of jello and used your tongue to
squash it out through your teeth...which is definitely rude and not
something you should do at the dinner table...but it is sort of how a
baleen whale eats).  The most likely reason for this is so that baleen
whales can eat many prey items at the same time.  Dolphins with teeth
pretty much eat their prey one at a time. Sperm whales also eat single
prey, but the things they eat are really large (giant squid).


At 06:50 PM 11/10/99 +0000, you wrote:
>Hi! My name is Brittany. I am 9  years old and I am studying  about
>I want to know why whales have baleens instead of teeth.
Greg Early
Edgerton Research Laboratory				
New England Aquarium
Central Wharf
Boston, Mass 02110
617-973-5246 (phone)
617-723-6207 (FAX)