Baleen Whales

Baleen whales have rigid plates that hang down from their upper jaws called baleen used to filter food from the water. Those baleen plates are made of keratin, the same material as fingernails and hair. There are many different techniques for baleen whales to feed, such as skimming the surface, gulping, lung feeding, bubble-net feeding, or slurping from the ocean floor like a gray whale does. Once the baleen whale has a mouthful of prey and a lot of sea water, the whale lifts its tongue to the roof of its mouth and opens its mouth slightly. This action forces the water to go through the baleen and the food gets caught in the hairlike bristles on the inside portion of the baleen. Hence the animals use baleen to filter small prey out of the water. Several species of baleen whales can be seen in Washington and Oregon State as listed below.

To report a dead, injured or stranded marine mammal: 1-800-853-1964. Entangled marine mammals: 1-877-SOS-WHALe or 1-877-767-9425 or hail the U.S. Coast Guard on VHF Channel 16. To report derelict gear 1-855-542-3935.

Species in Washington, Oregon & California

Blue Whale

Fin Whale

Gray Whale

Humpback Whale

Minke Whale

Northern Pacific Right Whale

Sei Whale