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Baleen whales use their baleen plates to filter out food from the water by either lunge-feeding or gulp-feeding.Baleen whales have fused neck vertebrae, and are unable to turn their head at all. Some species are well adapted for diving to great depths.Baleen whales range in size from the 20 ft (6 m) and 6,600 lb (3,000 kg) pygmy right whale to the 112 ft (34 m) and 190 t (210 short tons) blue whale, which is also the largest creature on earth. Baleen whales can have streamlined or large bodies, depending on the feeding behavior, and two limbs that are modified into flippers.Though not as flexible and agile as seals, baleen whales can swim very fast, with the fastest able to travel at 23 miles per hour (37 km/h).Baleen whales (systematic name Mysticeti), known earlier as whalebone whales, form a parvorder of the infraorder Cetacea (whales, dolphins and porpoises).They are a widely distributed and diverse parvorder of carnivorous marine mammals.


Baleen whales split from toothed whales (Odontoceti) around 34 million years ago.

Gray whales are specialized for feeding on bottom-dwelling mollusks.

Rorquals are specialized at lunge-feeding, and have a streamlined body to reduce drag while accelerating.

Right whales gulp-feed, meaning they use their enlarged head to effectively take in a large amount of water and sieve the slow-moving prey.

Males typically mate with more than one female (polygyny), although the degree of polygyny varies with the species.

Male strategies for reproductive success vary between performing ritual displays (whale song) or lek mating.



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