Cetaceans are the group of marine mammals to which Whales and Dolphins belong. There are two clear groups of whales - the Baleen whales and the Toothed whales.
The Baleen whales, such as the Humpback whale or Bryde’s whale, have hair-like structures in their mouths that they use to filter food from the water. Baleen whales are also renowned for their extraordinarily large tongues! These help move trapped food, assist in swallowing, and enable them to squeeze excess water from their mouths.
The Toothed whales such as orcas and dolphins feed on larger prey like fish and other marine mammals. They tend to be noticeably smaller than the Baleen whales, growing to around 43ft (13m). The Sperm Whale is the only toothed whale that grows longer than this.
To help with the identification of the Baleen and Toothed whales you will need to look out for the spout of warm, moist air which is expelled from their blowholes as they swim near the surface of the water. Your Galapatours cruise naturalist guide will point out that Baleens have two blowholes while Toothed whales have only one.
These stunning mammals are found mostly on the west of the Archipelago, partiularly in the Bolivar Channel between Isabela and Fernandina islands but also towards the south of the Galapagos. Some 24 species of cetaceans have been recorded in the waters around Galapagos, and the number of species peaks during the Humboldt season.
Fast Facts about the Whales & Dolphins
- Often found in the channel between Isabela and Fernandina Islands known as "Canal Bolivar"
- There is a small resident population of Orcas in the west of the Galapagos
- Bottlenose Dolphins are renowned for "riding the bow" of Galapagos cruise ships
- Galápagos was one of the prime hunting grounds for Spermwhales