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Gray Whale Antics

  • We're not sure why this whale has its mouth open! But the picture lets us see something special.

  • Look closely at its mouth by clicking on the small picture, below. Describe what you see. What does it remind you of? (A comb? A curtain?) It's called a baleen. Here's how it works:
  1. When a gray whale feeds at the bottom, it opens its mouth and gulps in mud, water, and sea creatures. During the summer, an adult in the Arctic can gulp a ton of food every day!
  2. Next, it partly closes its mouth and pushes the water and mud out through its baleen. The food stays trapped inside.
  3. The whale collects the food with its tongue (it has no teeth) and swallows it — sort of like scraping peanut butter off the roof of your mouth!
Click for a larger picture of the whale's baleen.