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baleen whales

Baleen Whales
Image: iStockphoto.com/jocrebbin

Baleen Whales

Baleen whales are named for the plates of fringed baleen — made from the same protein as human fingernails — that hang like a toothed comb from their upper jaws. These mammals have two blowholes, unlike toothed whales, which have only one.

About a dozen baleen whale species swim the planet’s oceans. They use their baleen to trap food, filtering floating organisms, crustaceans, and small fish from seawater.

NOAA
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Blue Whale Experts

Blue Whale Experts

The population of blue whales, the largest of the baleen whales, is in serious decline. Watch as scientists describe the challenges blue whales face and the steps taken to protect them. More...

Video
National Geographic
Fellowship of the Whales: Cooperative Feeding

Fellowship of the Whales: Cooperative Feeding

Humpback whales are the only whales known to use a cooperative feeding technique that scientists call “bubble netting.” Watch them work together to snag — and eat — a shoal of herring. More...

Video
NATURE/PBS
Scientist Profile: Whale Scientist

Scientist Profile: Whale Scientist

Marine biologist Ed Lyman helps rescue humpback whales — an endangered species — caught in fishing lines or hit by boats. Watch him at work. More...

Profile
DragonflyTV/PBS
The Power of Poop: A Whale Story

The Power of Poop: A Whale Story

What has 10 million times as much iron as Antarctic seawater? Whale poop, of course! Find out how whales recirculate this important mineral. More...

Article
NPR
52 Hertz: The Loneliest Whale in the World

52 Hertz: The Loneliest Whale in the World

A mysterious whale of unknown species travels alone and sings a song unlike any other whale’s. Why do they call this lonesome guy 52 Hertz? More...

Article
Animal Planet
Blue Whale Interactive

Blue Whale Interactive

The largest animal to have ever lived on Earth, the blue whale racks up some amazing statistics. Here’s one: It’s longer than a basketball court! Check out this interactive to find out more. More...

Interactive
National Geographic
Gray Whale Anatomy

Gray Whale Anatomy

Take a tour of a gray whale's anatomy, from its binary blowholes to its super-powerful tail flukes — and everything in between. More...

Video
NOAA
Humpback Whales Form Friendships That Last Years

Humpback Whales Form Friendships That Last Years

News flash! Female humpbacks may have BFFs. Baleen whales' social bonds were thought to be weak because they don’t hunt together. But groups of females may reunite after breeding each year. More...

Article
BBC
Humpback Whales: Photo Gallery

Humpback Whales: Photo Gallery

Underwater photographer Flip Nicklin captures amazing images of the humpback whale population that breeds in winter off the shores of Hawaii. A special permit allows him to swim up close and personal. More...

Images
National Geographic
Jean-Michel Cousteau Ocean Adventures: Whale Watcher

Jean-Michel Cousteau Ocean Adventures: Whale Watcher

Join explorer and conservationist Jean-Michel Cousteau on a whale-watching exhibition, but not as a spectator. In this game, you’re the videographer, in charge of capturing a range of gray whale behaviors. More...

Game
KQED
The Humpback Song

The Humpback Song

Humpback whales sing long, complicated songs, and some of their notes may travel 10,000 miles (16,093 km). We still aren’t sure why they do it. More...

Article
Journey North
The Song of the Whale

The Song of the Whale

Early mariners thought humpback whale songs were the ghosts of drowned sailors. While we know where the songs come from now, we're still not certain why whales sing. Explore the theories. More...

Article
EARTH A New Wild/PBS
The Ultimate Baleen Whale Quiz

The Ultimate Baleen Whale Quiz

Want to play 20 questions about baleen whales? Take this quiz to see what you know about the whale group that contains the planet’s largest creatures. More...

Interactive
HowStuffWorks
Whale Baleen Bends and Weaves to Snag Food

Whale Baleen Bends and Weaves to Snag Food

Scientists used a flow tank to demonstrate how two different types of whale baleen efficiently trap food to feed the enormous, toothless whales. Some whales need up to 4 tons of food a day! More...

Interactive
Scientific American

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