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(order Cetacea, suborder Mysticeti)

A family that includes the fin, humpback, and blue whales. The body is streamlined, the snout pointed, the throat and chest grooved. The dorsal fin is hooked and set far back on the body. The tail is slightly notched at the mid-line, and scalloped along the posterior edge. The cervical vertebrae are not fused. The baleen plates are broad and short, the left and right rows being joined anteriorly. The animals are typically grey on the dorsal surface, with some white on the ventral surface; but Megaptera novaengliae (humpback) may be black above and below, with white flippers. Members of the family feed on krill and small fish, and occur in both hemispheres. They grow to 7–30 m depending on species. There are six species, in two genera: Balaenoptera (B. acutorostrata, minke or lesser rorqual; B. borealis, sei; B. physalus, fin; B. musculus, blue; B. edeni, Bryde's); and Megaptera novaengliae (humpback).

Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences.

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