Diet and Feeding Habits



The food sources for whales are very diverse. It depends on various factors including time of year, location, and even the temperature of the water. They may consume very small types of plankton all the way up to larger forms of aquatic life. Toothed Whales tend to dine on fish, invertebrates, and squid. They rely on echolocation to help them find their prey. They may consume entire schools of fish at once. They are opportunistic and going to eat all they can when they have the chance. This allows them to build up their layers of blubber.

Baleen Whales tend to feed in the higher latitudes. They consume mostly krill. They rely on a type of filtering system that allows them to take in water and food sources. The water is removed so that they don’t drink the seawater. They consume the water they need though by extracting it from their food and then metabolizing the fat.

For the Mysticeti Whales, they use a filtering system to help them dine on very small forms of aquatic organisms. This includes plankton, krill, and various types of fish. For the Beluga Whales, their diet consists of worms, crustaceans, and different types of fish. Blue Whales will mainly consume krill. The Cuvier’s Beaked Whale consumes lots of squid as well as various types of deep sea fish.

When it comes to all whale species, the most diverse diet belongs to the Humpback Whale. They use a technique that is referred to as the bubble net feeding process. This allows a group of them to swim into a circle and they slowly close it in tighter and tighter around the prey. As they do this, they also blow bubbles at the prey. This confuses the prey and allows the whales to close in to consume them.

Perhaps the strictest diet of all whales is that of the Narwhales. They consume Arctic cod, polar cod, and Greenland halibut. They will also consume squid and shrimp at times. Sometimes, they have been found to accidentally consume rocks that are at the bottom of the water where they find their food sources. This has been confirmed by examining the stomach content of some of the deceased Narwhales.

Whale diving to find food

Whale diving to find food

For the Arnoux Beaked Whales, they consume a variety of fish and cephalopods. The Bowhead Whale is a filter feeding species. They focus on very small prey, with the main source of food being copepods. They have a mouth that is turned up on the sides of the lower jaw. It is believed this offers them additional support so that there isn’t breakage of the plates due to the force of the water passing through them.

Some species of whales have some unique feeding behaviors. One example is the Odontoceti suborder of whales. They have been seen consuming small marine mammals as well as various species of seabirds.

Gray Whales feed on herring eggs and larvae that they find in the grass beds that eels use in the summer and spring. This is the only species of whale that consumes food by straining the sediment that is found along the floor of the sea or ocean. They have been observed rolling around on their sides after they dive to the bottom of the water. They will take large amounts of the sediment into their mouth and then extract it while keeping the food sources from it.

For the Bryde’s Whale, they are very opportunistic, and will mainly feed on plankton such as krill and copepods. However, they will also consume various types of schooling fish when they can. This includes herring, anchovy, and sardine. They will use a variety of feeding methods including lunging, the bubble nets, and skimming on the surface. They tend to have the most diverse techniques of all whales, and will mix up what they use in order to increase the chance to get the food they seek.

The Sperm Whale dives from 980 to 2,600 feet in order to find food. They can stay under the water for up to an hour to find food. They consume lots of types of foods, but the main one is  the squid. They also consume small octopus and various rays. They use a clicking vocalization to find food that is believed to be the loudest created by any animal in the world.

The amount of time per day that a whale spends looking for and consuming food varies. The amount of food that they consume also varies. Some larger species consume more food, but tend to also consume larger prey, although there are exceptions like the blue whale. One of the problems that many whale species are facing for future survival is finding enough food. Migration is part of live for them regarding many species to be able to fine enough food.

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