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Whales and Whaling

Whales belong to the mammalian order Cetacea (whales, dolphins, and porpoises), which in turn is divided into two extant groups, Mysticeti (baleen whales) and Odontoceti (toothed whales). The former group includes most of the large or “great whale” species, such as the blue whale and humpback whale, all of which are filter feeders. These latter whales use baleen plates (mostly made of the protein keratin) in place of teeth to sieve prey species out of seawater. The mysticete whales breathe through two closable blowholes, as opposed to one blowhole in the toothed whales. The odontocetes include the other “great whale,” the sperm whale, and a variety of other families of cetaceans including beaked whales (family Ziphiidae), dolphins (family Delphinidae), and porpoises (family Phocoenidae). The moniker ...

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