This family includes 6 species placed in 2 genera. It includes minke, Bryde's, sei, fin, humpback, and blue whales. These range in size from the relatively small minke whale, about 8-10 m in length, to the giant blue whale, at 20 - 28 m length and almost 200,000 kg weight. The shape and color of the body, and the size and shape of fins, varies considerably among species. A shared external trait is the presence of deep longitudinal grooves in the skin, running over the entire throat and chest.
The skulls of these mysticetes can be recognized by a combination of the following technical characteristics: the nasals and the nasal processes of the premaxillae extend backward beyond the supraorbital processes of the frontals; the nasals are reduced in size; the frontals are small and barely or not exposed on the dorsal surface; the supraoccipital extends forward beyond the zygomatic process of the squamosal; the rostrum is broad and flat.
The baleen plates of rorquals are short and broad. These species feed by gulping large quantities of water and straining crustaceans and fish by shooting the water out between the baleen plates.
Rorquals feed in cold currents at high latitudes during the summer, mostly on the eastern sides of the oceans. Some species range mostly offshore, others are more often found in coastal waters. Their food is primarily krill, euphausiid crustaceans, which congregate near the surface in cold water. Blue whales eat little but euphausiids; other species have a broader diet, even including some fish. During the fall, most species migrate toward equatorial latitudes. They fast for several month, living by metabolizing blubber.
Rorquals are usually seen in groups ("pods") of 2-5 individuals. Their populations have been much reduced by whaling, and most are now fully protected by international treaty.
rorqual-aerial view from back
rorqual-the magesty of!
families of Mysticetes: Balaenidae -- right and bowhead whales Neobalaenidae -- pygmy right whale Balaenopteridae -- rorquals Eschrichtiidae -- gray whale families of Odontocetes: Physeteridae -- sperm whale Monodontidae -- narwhal and white whale Ziphiidae -- beaked whales Delphinidae -- ocean dolphins Phocoenidae -- porpoises Platanistidae -- river dolphins
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