Jorie Kuhns

Jorie Kuhns

Modified & Updated: 09 Sep 2023


Baleen whales are majestic creatures that roam the oceans of the world. These magnificent giants belong to the family of Mysticeti and are known for their unique feeding mechanism. Instead of teeth, they possess baleen plates that hang from their upper jaws, which they use to filter out vast amounts of water while retaining their food, mainly small fish and krill.

In this article, we will dive into the fascinating world of baleen whales and uncover some intriguing facts about these gentle giants. From their massive size to their long migrations, baleen whales never cease to amaze researchers and nature enthusiasts alike. So, let us embark on a journey of discovery and learn 14 fascinating facts about these remarkable creatures.

Table of Contents

Baleen Whales Belong to the Mysticeti Suborder

Baleen whales, also known as mysticetes, are a group of marine mammals that belong to the suborder Mysticeti.

Baleen Whales Have Baleen Plates Instead of Teeth

Unlike toothed whales, baleen whales have baleen plates in their mouths, which they use to filter small organisms from the water.

Baleen Whales are the Largest Animals on Earth

The blue whale, a type of baleen whale, holds the title for being the largest animal on Earth, reaching lengths of up to 100 feet.

Baleen Whales are Excellent Migrators

Baleen whales undertake long-distance migrations, traveling thousands of miles between feeding and breeding grounds each year.

Baleen Whales are Filter Feeders

Using their baleen plates, baleen whales filter seawater to capture small fish, plankton, and krill, which serve as their primary food source.

Baleen Whales Produce Unique Sounds

Baleen whales are known for their complex vocalizations, which can include songs, clicks, and other distinct sounds used for communication.

Baleen Whales Have a Thick Layer of Blubber

To survive in cold ocean waters, baleen whales have a thick layer of blubber that provides insulation and serves as an energy reserve.

Baleen Whales Have Few Natural Predators

Due to their size and strength, baleen whales have few natural predators, with the exception of large sharks and, occasionally, killer whales.

Baleen Whales Practice Breaching

Baleen whales are known to breach, or leap out of the water, displaying spectacular aerial displays that may serve mating or communication purposes.

Baleen Whales Have Unique Feeding Techniques

Each species of baleen whale has its own feeding technique, such as lunge feeding, gulp feeding, or skim feeding, depending on their prey.

Baleen Whales Have Lengthy Gestation Periods

Baleen whale pregnancies can last anywhere from 10 to 16 months, depending on the species, before giving birth to a single calf.

Baleen Whales Have an Average Lifespan of 70-90 Years

Baleen whales generally have a long lifespan, with some species living up to 70-90 years in the wild.

Baleen Whales Play an Important Role in Marine Ecosystems

As top predators, baleen whales help maintain the balance of marine ecosystems by regulating populations of their prey.

Baleen Whales are a Fascinating Research Subject

Scientists continue to study baleen whales to understand their behavior, migration patterns, and conservation needs, contributing to ongoing research and conservation efforts.


Baleen whales are fascinating creatures that inhabit our oceans. Their unique feeding mechanisms, massive size, and beautiful songs make them a subject of great interest and study. From their incredible migration patterns to their importance in marine ecosystems, there is still so much to learn about these magnificent animals.

By understanding the various species of baleen whales, their behaviors, and their needs, we can better protect and conserve their habitats. Through research and conservation efforts, we can ensure the survival and well-being of these incredible creatures for future generations.


Q: How many species of baleen whales are there?

A: There are 14 recognized species of baleen whales, including the blue whale, humpback whale, and gray whale.

Q: What do baleen whales eat?

A: Baleen whales primarily feed on krill, small fish, and plankton. They use their baleen plates to filter out food from the water.

Q: How big can baleen whales get?

A: Baleen whales are some of the largest animals on Earth. The blue whale, for example, can reach lengths of up to 100 feet and weigh as much as 200 tons.

Q: What is the purpose of baleen plates?

A: Baleen plates are used by whales to filter out the food they consume. The bristly plates act like a sieve, allowing water to pass through while capturing small prey.

Q: How do baleen whales communicate?

A: Baleen whales are known for their intricate songs, which can travel over long distances. These songs are thought to be a form of communication and are often associated with mating and social behaviors.

Q: Are baleen whales endangered?

A: While some species of baleen whales are still considered endangered or vulnerable, conservation efforts have helped increase their population in recent years. It is crucial to continue protecting their habitats and reducing threats to their survival.