PHOTOS: Whale and calf spotted of South Melbourne Beach

Do you know how whales feed?

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Photo: Betty Gardner Gonzalez

MELBOURNE, Fla. – A right whale and calf were spotted by News 6 viewer Betty Gardner Gonzalez on Friday near South Shores condominiums.

Adult right whales can grow to be up to 52 feet in length and can weigh upwards of 70 tons.

When the whales feed, they swim slowly and use baleen to eat large schools of zooplankton, a small, shrimp-like crustacean.

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If you’re scratching your head, wondering what baleen is, you’re not alone.

In the simplest terms, baleen whales don’t have teeth, instead they have something called baleen plates. It’s made of the same thing as your hair and fingernails. They use their baleen as a filter system when feeding.

To use its filter, the whale first opens its mouth underwater pulling in gallons of water and thousands of tiny sea creatures. The whale then pushes the water out through the baleen, and animals such as krill and zooplankton stay behind.

According to National Ocean Service, researchers estimate that there are only about 400 North Atlantic right whales remaining, and fewer than 100 breeding females.

The main threat to these creatures are large ships and being entangled in fishing gear.


About the Author:

Tom Metevia is an Emmy Award-winning content creator. He writes for all of the company's news websites, including ClickOnDetroit.com. Tom specializes in travel, entertainment and theme park news.