(Odontoceti) – approx. 73 species
Distinguishing features of Toothed Whales
Toothed whales are predators that use their peg-like teeth to catch fish, squid, and marine mammals, swallowing them whole. They have one blowhole (nostril) and use echolocation to hunt.
Toothed whales have excellent hearing and use echolocation (also known as SONAR) to sense objects. They make short, intense, broad-band pulses of ultra-sonic sound which bounce off objects near it. The animal “hears” the objects in its environment, creating an acoustical picture. In echolocation, a high-pitched sound (usually clicks) is sent out by the whale. The sound bounces off the object and some returns to the whale. The whale interprets this returning echo to determine the object’s shape, direction, distance, and texture. Bats and some other marine mammals also use echolocation. A toothed whale’s echolocation starts with a series of low-frequency clicks (called a train) produced by the animal. This train passes through the melon of the whale: a fat-filled organ in the head of the toothed whale that focuses the sound wave. The train of clicks is focused into a beam that bounces off objects and reflects (echos) back to the whale.
Be Wise about Toothed Whales:
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