Digital Whale Museum

Characteristics of Toothed Whales

Using false killer whales as an example, let's take a look at the characteristics of toothed whales.

They have teeth.

False killer whales use their teeth to catch their prey, but they don’t chew–they swallow their prey whole. All of their teeth are the same shape and do not get replaced.

Site eco ha 01 en

Toothed whales eat fish and squid

Toothed whales catch fish and squid one at a time and swallow their prey whole.

Site eco ha 02 en

Toothed whales have only one blowhole.

Toothed whales have a blowhole located on top of their head. Their nasal passage has an area which is capable of creating sound.

Site eco ha 03 en

Toothed Whales Use Echolocation

Toothed whales can create ultrasonic waves from their blowholes and by receiving the echo of the sound, they can identify their location and the objects around them such as food or predators. Their forehead has a cavity filled with adipose tissue or “melon” which controls the direction, volume, of their voices (ultrasonic waves).

Site eco ha 04

Connected to nasal passage that can produce sound by blowing the air in and out of several hollow spaces in the area.

The sound is amplified through “melon” that sends the sound outside.

The echo of the sound reaches to the ears through the bones of lower jaw.

Whales can recognize the location and the size of the objects by intensity and direction of the echo.