What is baleen made out of? Print E-mail

Baleen whales have "baleen plates" that hang down inside their mouth. This baleen is made out of keratin, the same stuff your finger nails are made of. The baleen is used by whales to filter their food out of the ocean water.  Since they eat very small krill, they need to eat huge amounts of it, so they use the baleen to filter tons of krill at a time. How? Some whales gulp tons of water at one time, then close their mouth, forcing the water out through the gaps in the baleen, leaving the krill behind, inside the baleen and inside their mouths. Then they lick the krill off their baleen with their tongue, before taking another gulp! Baleen whales are animals like humpbacks, gray whales, blue whales, minke whales, and sei whales. I took the photo above of a dead baleen (humpback) whale that had washed ashore on Ariel Sands on South Shore, Devonshire. I don't know why the whale had died but as the waves pounded his body, the baleen came out of his mouth.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 10 April 2008 11:24 )
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