Dolphins > The Mysticeti Print this page
These are the family of whales that we all think of as being the largest, as indeed they are, in some cases growing to 120ft long and weighing up to 190 tons. In comparison, the Boeing B747 airliner weighs 150 tons when empty. They are distinguished from the other cetaceans, not by their size, but by the fact that they filter their food from the sea through curtains or plates of bristly substance called Baleen. This is found growing from the roof of their mouths, which are toothless and is extremely efficient in trapping small organisms from 1mm to about 75mm in size. Those organisms caught are chiefly Krill and Plankton and although very small, contain some of the richest sources of protein to be found on earth. This food is available in quantities of millions of tons in the oceans. One concentration found in the Antarctic was estimated to weigh 10,000,000 tons! The mysticeti filter this food up literally by the ton.