ABOVE: The baleen plates can be clearly seen in this picture of a humpback with its mouth open, taken in Hervey Bay in 1997.
(Photo: Trish Franklin)
|Humpbacks are baleen whales which means they have fibrous plates of baleen which hang like curtains from their upper jaw instead of teeth (See INSERT below).
There are as many as 300 to 400 baleen plates on either side of their mouth, which act as a filter separating the krill from the sea water.
Baleen, which is made of keratin just like our fingernails, is an extremely efficient sieving device for catching the many tons of krill needed to sustain them on their long migratory journey to the sub tropics and back.