The Ultimate Mouthful: Lunge-feeding in Rorqual Whales

Some of the largest baleen whales—such as blue whales, fin whales and humpbacks—fall into a family called rorquals that use an unusual method of feeding. These whales feed on aggregations of zooplankton and fish by lunging with their mouths open wide to tremendous gape angles to force huge volumes of water and prey into their expandable oral cavities. This extreme lunge feeding strategy is facilitated by some of the most bizarre anatomical adaptations, many of which are completely unique among mammals. Learn more about the anatomical and behavioral data that helps us understand how the largest vertebrates subsist on the smallest food at the American Cetacean Society.