Whales, dolphins and porpoises make up the classification order Cetacea,
which contains two suborders, Mysticeti and Odontoceti. The baleen whales
are members of the Mysticeti suborder, while the toothed whales, dolphins
and porpoises make up the suborder Odontoceti.
Altogether, the two suborders contain eighty-one known species, separated
into thirteen different families. In each family are a number of species, each
classified further into 'sub-families', or genera, of which there are 40.
What Are Cetaceans?
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The 'baleen whales' or Mysticeti do not have teeth. Instead they have
plates made of keratin (the same substance as our fingernails) which hang
down from the upper jaw. These plates act like a giant filter, straining small
animals (such as plankton, krill and fish) from the seawater. Cetaceans
included in this group include the mighty Blue Whale, the Humpback Whale,
the Bowhead Whale and the Minke Whale.