How many stomachs does a baleen whale have?
How does the baleen of a blue whale work?
Which is the only whale with a full digestive tract?
Yes, whales do possess tongues just like most animal species. In fact the presence of a tongue is visible in all species of cetacea such as whales, dolphins and porpoises. All three sub species are either part of the toothed whale or baleen whale suborder based on whether they are born with teeth or baleen plates.
Baleen is a filter-feeding system inside the mouths of baleen whales. To use baleen, the whale first opens its mouth underwater to take in water. The whale then pushes the water out, and animals such as krill are filtered by the baleen and remain as a food source for the whale.
The digestive systems of whales consists of an esophagus, a compartmentalized stomach (similar to that of ruminants like cows or hippos) and an intestine. Prey, whether ingested one at a time as in toothed whales or by the thousands as in baleen whales, are not chewed but rather swallowed whole.
Similar to ruminants the sperm whale has a four-chambered stomach. The first secretes no gastric juices and has very thick muscular walls to crush the food (since whales cannot chew) and resist the claw and sucker attacks of swallowed squid. The second chamber is larger and is where digestion takes place.
Biologically speaking, whales are therefore not ruminants. They are carnivores, though their stomachs still retain undeniable traces of their ungulate ancestors!
Baleen whales feed by filtering or straining food from the water. They love to eat krill, fish, zooplankton, phytoplankton, and algae. Some, such as the right whale, are called “skimmers”. These whales swim slowly with their huge mouths open to take in large amounts of water and food.
They, along with other baleen whales, are considered to have three stomachs — or four if one counts a swelling at the start of the small intestine. The fore stomach churns things up but does little breakdown.