Types of Whales

Baleen Whales vs. Toothed Whales

All Whales are either Baleen or Toothed, and there are plenty of differences that set them apart. Of course the Toothed Whales are those that have teeth while the Baleen ones don’t. So how do Baleen Whales consume food? They have a filtering system that is built into their lower jaw area. They can graze through the water at low speeds and take in plenty of water and food. The water is removed from it and they swallow the food.

You may have the conclusion that Toothed Whales chew up their food but that is wrong. They too swallow it whole. However, they use their teeth to tear of pieces of very large prey. This means they have an advantage over the Baleen whales because they can only consume what is small enough for them to easily swallow. There are rows of plates in their jaws that work like teeth though so they can still be a threat if necessary.


Whale Baleen Structure

Photography: Courtesy NOAA

Toothed Whales are also known to be more aggressive towards each other, especially the males during mating season. They use their strong teeth to battle for the right to mate with the females. Toothed Whales can also hit boats which make them more dangerous. Researchers think they hits in such ways as a form of curiosity though and not out of aggression.

Baleen whales tend to be much larger than Toothed Whales. You will notice that the Baleen Whales have two blow holes while the Toothed Whales only have one. They also can’t swim as rapidly in the water as the Toothed Whales can. Most of the Baleens have no dorsal fins, and those that do have very small ones. All Toothed Whales have at least one dorsal fin.

Both of these types of whales were once widely hunted for a variety of reasons. The Baleen Whales seemed to be hunted on a larger scale. First, they were less dangerous so the risk involved was reduced. Second, their oils were used for cooking, to make clothing, and for other resources. Today the use of whale oil for such things is all most non existent. It has been replaced by other materials that work well and are inexpensive.

Baleen Whales vs. Toothed Whales
Baleen Whales Toothed Whales

The Toothed Whales were often hunted for the thrill of the challenge that they presented. As the tools that fishermen had become more advanced they were able to take them down with less of a battle. Many fishermen didn’t like sharing the waters with Toothed Whales either so removing them helped ensure they was safer at sea.

There is sufficient evidence to suggest that both Baleen Whales and Toothed Whales were once land animals. They evolved due to the destruction of their natural habitat and became dependent on the water only for their survival. You will find both of these types of whales can survive in the extreme cold and in the warmer climates.

Baleen Whales and Toothed Whales both have species that are at risk of extinction though due to reduced numbers. There are many conservation efforts in place for both types of whales. The goals of these efforts include preventing the hunting of them, preserving their natural environment, and to help ensure they continue to reproduce so that their survival will be ongoing.

There are quite a few differences that separate the categories of Baleen Whales and Toothed Whales from each other. In each category there are also various species due to further breakdowns and differences among them. If you are very interested in whales you should explore these areas as well. There are plenty of species of Baleen Whales and Toothed Whales that you will find to be extremely interesting.

Scroll to Top