Whale Cuisine

How many diners can fit inside a blue whale’s mouth? The answer is 100, give or take a few for social distancing.

In this 6-minute video our favourite whale expert, Professor Tracey Rogers, discusses dining, blue whale-style.

The blue whale is a baleen whale, like the humpback and right whales. Baleen whales are suction feeders, deriving their name from the sieve-like baleen that grow down from the roof of their enormous mouths. Baleen are made from a keratinous material, similar to our hair and fingernails.

Their eating habits are a little like dinner with great-Grandpa – no teeth required.

To feed, the whale dives deep, positioning itself below a krill school. At speeds reaching 37kmph, it charges upwards towards its prey, opening its enormous mouth at the last moment to engulf the tiny crustaceans. That draws in tons of krill and as much as 120 tons of water. Enough to drown a whale! Then the whale sieves the water out through the baleen strands, keeping the krill.

This high-energy hunting requires a catch of 500,000 calories a day to be worth the energy expenditure for the whale.

That’s like eating 6,000 Lindor dark chocolate balls.

Sadly, due to environmental degradation and over-fishing, our planet’s stock of Antarctic krill has diminished by 80% in the last 30 years. That leaves barely enough to support a healthy blue whale population which, even decades after hunting has ended, is still critically endangered.

We can all help the whales survive. Follow the Gowings Whale Trust on Facebook to become part of a larger network of folks who care about our amazing marine mammals. Subscribe and donate here or support us by purchasing Whale Trust merchandise at Coastbeat Marketplace. 100% of profits are returned to the Gowings Whale Trust.