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Cetaceans are split into two groups, depending on whether they have teeth or not.
Toothed whales - Odontoceti
The members of this group don't have teeth as we know them, but baleen plates or "whalebone". The whole skull of such whales is highly modified. There is a large strong bony projection from the front of the "brain case" from which baleen plates (made of keratin, like skin, fingernails, hair, hooves and rhino horns) hang on either side. This makes a triangular tent-like structure that is a large and elaborate sieve. The lower jaw is the "floor" of this tent and baleen whales have a huge tongue that sits in the middle of it all.
Mysticetes take in a mouth full of sea water and huge numbers of planktonic food such as krill or even shoaling fish They then close their mouths and use the tongue to push out all of the water through the baleen filters which keep the small prey inside, these are then swallowed. Different species of whales feed on different sizes of prey according to how wide the gaps in their baleen filters are. In this way, they don't all compete directly with each other and so are able to co-exist in the oceans occupying different "niches".
A Right Whale, a baleen whale, showing the baleen in the mouth and the large tongue
The baleen whales include all the really large whales apart from the Sperm Whale (which has teeth). Blue, Right, Sei, Fin, Grey, Humpback and Minke whales are all baleen whales.
Sometimes whales may be referred to as "Rorquals" These are members of a group of whales that are characterised by having numerous longitudinal grooves along the throat region, they also have short baleen plates, rarely more than 3 feet long and are the fastest swimming of the whales.
Taxonomy is the study of the relationships between organisms. It is a system of classifying them by observable structures that may be large, molecular or anywhere in between. Taxonomy groups organisms according to their similarities based on evolutionary relationships.
Whales are mammals of the order Cetacea:
This is not a comprehensive summary of the taxonomy of all Cetaceans, but of those found commonly in Antarctica and covered in more detail on this site.
It's always struck me how there's not that many pictures of whales around and the ones that there are often not really that clear. The reason for this is that it's very difficult to take a picture of something so large that lives in the water. It's not helped by the fact that whales while being very large are also pretty fast swimming and difficult to find in the vast expanses of ocean.
Their size means that you need to be quite a distance from the whale in order to take a picture, many waters are not that clear and by the time you're 100-150 feet away to get the whole whale in the picture, you just can't see it very well any more!
Open oceans tend to be clearer than coastal waters, but then there's the problem of finding the whales, once you know where they are you need to get to them, usually by boat which in the process will probably scare them away. Sure you can find and follow whales in fast boats like the whalers used to do, but the cost is to terrify the poor creature in the process and by the time you've jumped in the water to take some pictures, you've been left way behind and are now able only to swim at a snails pace compared to the full speed whale.
The final problem - though really part of the other two - is that no-one knows where whales spend much of the year. We know where they go to feed during seasonal abundances of foods when the problem is usually that the plankton in the water that is the reason for the whales being there make it difficult to see far under water, and a hungry whale swimming around feeding happily is a difficult thing to get near and get to pose for you.
The end result of all this is that good pictures of any whales are difficult to achieve and any pictures of some whales are almost impossible to achieve. So most of what there are tend to be of a few easier to photograph species such as Humpbacks and Orcas, or of bits of the whales as seen from the surface usually headed in the other direction.
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