Wild Animals/whales


1.) Why gray whales are called as "Devil fish"?
2.) What are the Diet and eating habits of baleen whales?

Dear Charmaine

Thank you for your questions.I alsowish to thank the authors of the websites I used.

1.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gray_whale and http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1299548/Whales-dubbed-devil-fish-appear- say that gray whales were called 'devil fish'because they show fighting behaviour when hunted and may attack whalers. http://www.marinebio.net/marinescience/05nekton/GWlagoons.htm says that the gray whale would surface under a whaleboat, breaking the boat and injuring or killing the whalers.  http://www.arkive.org/gray-whale/eschrichtius-robustus/ says the name was used by whalers because of the ferocity shown by mothers when they are separated from their calves.

2. Tom Harris (http://science.howstuffworks.com/zoology/marine-life/whale5.htm) and http://seaworld.org/en/animal-info/animal-infobooks/baleen-whales/diet-and-eatin that baleen whales lack teeth. Instead they have wide baleen or whalebone plates hanging down from the upper jaw. The plates are made of hundreds of long, fringed blades, made of keratin (the same material as we have in our fingernails). The blades form a sieve to filter small animals from seawater. There are two ways in which the baleen whales use these sieves.

a. Skimmers include right whales. They open their mouths and swim slowly forward, catching animals as they go. The water enters the mouth through a gap in the front baleen plates. The animals are caught in the finely fringed baleen mat; water flows through the baleen and out of the sides of the mouth. After the whales have filtered a lot of water, they knock food morsels loose and swallow them whole. Minke whales may be feed by skiming as well as by gulping.

b. Gulpers include rorquals. They feed by gulping enormous mouthfuls of prey and water. As the mouth fills, the whale's throat grooves expand and its mouth cavity balloons outward. The whale brings its jaws together and contracts the throat grooves; it pushes the tongue forward to force the water out through the baleenand the sides of the mouth. The prey animals are caught in the baleen mat. Some rorquals use their tail flukes to sweep or flick prey towards the mouth.

Humpback whales use a 'bubble net' to trap fish. When a whale locates a school of fish near the ocean's surface, it swims in a circle or spiral beneath them, releasing air from its blowhole. This builds up columns of bubbles, which float upwards all around the school, so they are contained in a small area. The whale charges up from below, catching the fish in its baleen. Several humpback whales may employ lunge-feeding up through a "bubble net", with one whalefeeding at a time.The whales may emit a loud shriek as they approach the fish; this may disorient their prey.

http://seaworld.org/en/animal-info/animal-infobooks/baleen-whales/diet-and-eatin that the gray whale feeds mainly on invertebrates that live in bottom sediments. It rolls on its side and sucks in the water, mud and animals. The animals are caught in the whale's short, coarse baleen mat. Water and mud flow out through the baleen and back out.

Baleen whales typically have very small throats, as they feed on small animals.

I hope this helps

All the best


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Jonathan Wright


I can answer questions about wild mammals and other animals, as well as extinct animals and zoos. I am not an expert about every animal species. I can look up information from books and the internet, but can't verify if all the information is true. Please don't ask questions about: 1. Pets. I am not a vet. Please contact a vet if your pet is ill. You may need to spend some money if you want your pet to live. Don't get a pet if you don't know how to look after it and if you can't provide it with the space, food and possible companions that will help it live a healthy life. Don't take animals from the wild, unless they are ill and/or injured and you can protect them until a wildlife charity can help. It is cruel to take animals from their parents, especially if the parents will look for the babies, while putting their other babies at risk. You may be breaking the law by keeping wild animals or you may need a licence to look after some species. Please check with a local wildlife group. 2. Eggs: Please don't remove eggs from nests. The mother birds provide the right temperature for the eggs and won't sit on them if the temperature is warm enough for them to develop naturally. It is illegal to remove eggs of some species and, unless you have an incubator or a broody hen, the egg may not develop. If you are allowed to touch the eggs, you can candle them to see if they are fertile. If theys aren't fertile, they won't hatch. 3. Fights: Please don't ask about fights between different animals. These questions assume that individuals of two species fight each time they meet and that one species will always be victorious over another. This is untrue. There are cases where a live mouse has been fed to a venomous snake, bitten the snake leading to the snake's demise. 4: Diseases: Please ask doctors or other medical experts about diseases that you may catch from animals. I can't advise on how to deal with viruses, bacteria etc.


I have a zoology degree and have been interested in animals since I was two. I am a zoo volunteer at London Zoo. I have appeared on a BBC Radio Quiz, 'Wildbrain'.

WWF. ZSL. Natural History Museum. RSPB. London Bat Group.

Newsletters of London Zoo volunteers and the London Bat Group

BSC degree in Zoology. 'A' level in Zoology. 'O' Level in Biology.

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