Odontocetes & Mysticetes
Cetaceans are animals that were amphibious who came back into the water. There are two families of whales the Mysticetes (mustache whales) and the Odontocetes, the toothed whales.
- There are two families of odontocetes distinguished by the shape of their teeth: the porpoises (with spade-like teeth) and dolphins (with round teeth).
- Sperm whales are the only odontocetes that don’t fit into either dolphin or porpoise categories.
- Odontocetes are pack animals that hunt cooperatively.
- Odontocetes use high frequency vocalizations for echolocation and “bio-sonar.”
- We’ve been able to learn more about odontocetes hearing because they are small and easier to keep in captivity.
- Minke whales are the smallest mysticete at 4 meters.
- Blue whales are the largest mysticete, up to 25 meters.
- Mysticetes graze on krill, plankton, and small fishes. They use low-frequency sound to communicate and navigate over long distances.
- Mysticetes are too large to hold in captivity so what we do know about them are from wild, open ocean interactions.
- Orca “killer whale” (actually in the dolphin family)
- Sperm whale
- Minke whale
- Blue whale
- Bowhead whale
- Right whale
Odontocetes – toothed whales
Mysticetes – mustache whales
Low frequency (.1 Hz – 1kHz)
Mid Frequency (1kHz – 10kHz)
High frequency (10kHz – 200kHz)
Echolocation – sensing surroundings by emitting sound and hearing the reflection; also called “Bio-sonar”
Operant conditioning testing – training a subject to respond to a stimulus by reward or punishment; amplifies the response to the stimulus by correlating it to the subject either seeking the reward or expecting punishment when they sense the stimulus