The baleen whales (Mysticeti), also called whalebone whales, is one of two suborders of the Cetacea (whales, dolphins, and porpoises). They are the edentulous whales, characterized by having baleen plates for filtering food from water, rather than teeth like in the toothed whales or Odontoceti. Living species of Mysticeti have teeth only during the embryonal phase. Fossil Mysticeti had teeth before baleen evolved.
The blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) is a marine mammal belonging to the baleen whales (Mysticeti). At 30 metres (98 ft) in length and 170 tonnes (190 short tons) or more in weight, it is the largest known animal ever to have existed.
Long and slender, the blue whale's body can be various shades of bluish-grey dorsally and somewhat lighter underneath. There are at least three distinct subspecies: B. m. musculus of the North Atlantic and North Pacific, B. m. intermedia of the Southern Ocean and B. m. brevicauda (also known as the pygmy blue whale) found in the Indian Ocean and South Pacific Ocean. B. m. indica, found in the Indian Ocean, may be another subspecies. As with other baleen whales, its diet consists almost exclusively of small crustaceans known as krill.
Whale watching is the practice of observing whales and dolphins (cetaceans) in their natural habitat. Whales are watched most commonly for recreation (cf. bird watching) but the activity can also serve scientific or educational purposes. A 2009 study, prepared for IFAW, estimated that 13 million people went whale watching globally in 2008. Whale watching generated $2.1 billion per annum in tourism revenue worldwide, employing around 13,000 workers. The size and rapid growth of the industry has led to complex and continuing debates with the whaling industry about the best use of whales as a natural resource.
Organized whale watching dates back to 1950 when the Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego was declared a public venue for observing Gray Whales and the spectacle attracted 10,000 visitors in its first year. In 1955 the first water-based whale watching commenced in the same area, charging customers $1 per trip to view the whales at closer quarters. The industry spread throughout the western coast of the United States over the following decade.
The killer whale (Orcinus orca), also referred to as the orca whale or orca, and less commonly as the blackfish, is a toothed whale belonging to the oceanic dolphin family. Killer whales are found in all oceans, from the frigid Arctic and Antarctic regions to tropical seas. Killer whales as a species have a diverse diet, although individual populations often specialize in particular types of prey. Some feed exclusively on fish, while others hunt marine mammals such as sea lions, seals, walruses, and even large whales. Killer whales are regarded as apex predators, lacking natural predators.