All about Whales| Diet & Eating habits|

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What do whales eat

What do whales eatMost of us have been at the shore to feed the fish or might have some back at home as a pet. But did you ever wonder about what do whales eat?                  
Like any other living being, whales also need a nutritious diet to maintain their health and survival. 

Not only for the whale themselves, but their eating habit is just as much as needed to maintain the balance in the ecosystem. With over and above 90 types of species in the cetacean family, there are numerous ways to identify, isolate and obstruct whale food in the ecosystem. 

Many factors determine a whale’s eating habits and diet, which may vary according to the type of species, natural habitat, size and shape, and food availability. All these factors determine if they will eat smaller organisms like shrimps, fish, krill, crabs, plankton, or many other beings, Or they will hunt bigger and larger beings of the water body, like, sharks, seals, sea lions, or in some cases even a whale. Let’s find out what do whales eat.

What is Whale Food?

Intriguing as it sounds, these sea beasts have a navigation system to locate and identify their food. However, all these hunting and eating techniques vary from species to species. In this article, you will get a brief yet thorough and complete guide as to how and what do different kinds of whales eat.

Baleen Whales: This whale species has a unique way of hunting its prey. Also known as humpback or Right whales, Baleen whale does not have teeth but instead has bristles strands that work like a net and filter for the prey they hunt.

They have this unique way of hunting; they graze the ocean’s surface to capture any small organism on the surface. Baleen whales are called Baleen because they have baleen plates hanging inside their mouth from their upper jaw. After capturing their prey in the mouth, they then use their giant tongues to flush out excess water from their mouth, where bristles around their mouth help keep the useful things in the mouth and only flush out water.

Toothed Whales: The technique used by Toothed Whales or Sperm whales or White whales is just as unique as the Baleen whale. They used a technique called Echolocation. With the help of this technique, they emit a beam of sound or clicking sound, and then with the amount of sound that bounces back from the organism ahead, they can determine the distance of the organisms, their size or shape, and even their movement. Echolocation is not only useful for hunting food but is also useful for watching the movement of other dangerous and bigger animals.

What exactly is Whale food? Do Whales Eat Fish?

Now, we are mostly aware that whales eat fish and other smaller beings of the ocean, but some of us are left in the grey wondering if a whale can eat a bigger hunt, like an octopus or a bigger fish in the ocean.

 The answer to this is Yes, whales can swallow a bigger being as a whole, and there is only one species of whale that can do this, the Sperm whale. This majestic-toothed whale can swallow a big squid or even an octopus whole. This might not be a proven fact, but it is believed that a toothed whale can consume a whopping 220 Billion pounds of squid in a year. 

Toothed Whales| More Detailed info on their Diet and Eating Habits:

What type of whale food a whale eats is mostly determined by the type of whale it is. If it’s a toothed whale, they are known to be active hunters, and they are known to consume bigger organisms as they have teeth to consume them. 

However, most of these whales swallow their food whole, like, squid, octopus, and bigger fishes. But a certain variety of toothed whales, such as the killer whale, is known to prey on even bigger organisms in the ocean, like sea lions, sharks, seals, or in some cases, even a whale itself. 


Killer whales are known to attack in groups and make a fully coordinated attack on their prey. They spend most of their time in the group and rarely separate. They only separate for mating and, or in some cases, going to hunt for prey alone.

Baleen Whales| More Detailed info on What Do Whales Eat:

Since baleen whales do not have teeth like toothed whales, they use the filter-feeding technique. With the help of the bristles around their mouth, they use the unique method of filter feeding. It is the technique in which a whale swims towards its prey with an open mouth and closes the mouth once the prey is inside the mouth. Then, with the help of its giant tongue, they flush out the excess water, and its bristles make sure the food does not get out, and once this process is complete, the prey is swallowed whole.

Baleen whales swim with their mouth open toward a group or herd of fish and wait until enough food is inside the mouth. They are also known to swim at the surface with open mouths to catch their prey. 

One species of baleen whale, known as the Humpback whale, uses the bubble netting technique. It is a technique in which a group of humpback whales comes together to circle a herd of fish and blow bubbles to get them to roll towards the surface, and then once there are enough fishes on the surface, they use the filer feeding to feed on the hunt. 

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What is Bottom Feeding?

Bottom feeding is the technique in which a gray whale, for instance, will swim to the bottom of the ocean and roll over the surface to disrupt the organism stuck to the surface and then feed on them once they move or swim up.  A gray whale consumes a whopping 3000 pounds of whale food daily. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Do all whales eat meat?


Yes, whales are carnivores and only feed on the sea creatures around them.

Do whales eat sharks?


Toothed or sperm whales feed on bigger organisms in the ocean since they have bigger teeth to consume bigger creatures.

Do whales drink water?


There have been a lot of speculations about this, but as of now, whales do not drink water; they get their share of water from metabolism from eating the food and oxidation of fat.

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