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Mouthful of Baleen

This baby's mouth is open so you can see the baleen. The baleen hangs like a curtain from the upper jaws. It takes the place of teeth in whale species with two blowholes. This baby still nurses on mother's milk but the baleen helps gray whales eat.

Gray whales are filter feeders. They dive to the bottom, roll on their side and suck in a mouthful of mud and water from the seabed. Next, they push the muddy water out through their baleen filter, using their giant tongue. Tiny organisms that live on the seabed stay in the baleen but water and silt get filtered out.

Photo: Renee Bonner

Baby whale's mouth open to show baleen