What Is A Baleen Whale?
Scientists classify Southern Right Whales as belonging to the Baleen family of Whales – otherwise known as the Mysticete sub-order of Cetacea. Members of the Baleen family of whales possess no teeth whatsovever. Instead, nature has endowed Right Whales and allied species with what are known as Baleen Plates. These Baleen plates are structures that are found in the mouth and are used as a means to filter food sources such as copepods from sea water. The Southern Right Whale’s Baleen consists of a series of 230 pairs of elongated triangular plates suspended from each side of the whale’s upper jaw. These triangular plates have been measured at over 2.5 metres long and are composed of a material called chitin – a material which is very similar to human finger nails. Within the Southern Right Whale’s mouth the internal surfaces of these baleen plates form a frayed and dense sieve like matting through which the Right Whale filters its prey.