Do Whales Eat Jellyfish: Facts Around Various Types Of Whale


Whales are wonderful yet intriguing animals with a very diverse diet. Let us together find out if whales eat jellyfish

Whales do eat jellyfish, although it is not an essential part of their diet. Some whales eat quite indiscriminately and attack everything that comes their way in the ocean. As a result, jellyfishes often come under attack, but they are 95% water and do not carry any essential nutrients needed by the whale for sustenance.

People ask a lot of questions about different whales and whether they eat jellyfish. Together, let us answer some of the most commonly asked ones.

Image Credits: “Jellyfish” by Mini D is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.

What whales eat jellyfish?

Most whale varieties eat crabs, fishes, krill, and squid. But which whales eat jellyfish? Let us find out.

Whale sharks and orcas are among popular whale species that eat jellyfish. The thing about jellyfishes is that they have a gelatinous body that can be easily swallowed whole. Whale species do not even have to bite into the jellyfish’s body. Besides, even baleen whales can eat jellyfishes since they are squishy and pass through the baleen plates easily. 

Besides whales, jellyfishes are also eaten by other marine animals like sea turtles, penguins, and ocean sunfish.

Do killer whales eat jellyfish?

Image Credits: “Killer Whale (Resident Orca)” by Shawn McCready is marked with CC BY-ND 2.0.

Killer whales are fierce predators who eat various marine creatures. But do they eat jellyfish? Let us find out.

Yes, killer whales do consume jellyfishes occasionally. However, their primary diet consists of fish, squid, some shark species, and different whale species. Jellyfishes are available in plenty, and killer whales hunt indiscriminately. Therefore, they eat jellyfishes as well as penguins, sea birds, and other marine creatures that cross their path

What makes jellyfishes vulnerable to attacks by whales is their small size. Besides, they are gelatinous and easy to swallow. Most whale species can gulp them down in one go.    

Do humpback whales eat jellyfish?

Image Credits: “Humpback whale” by MindsEye_PJ is marked with CC BY 2.0.

Wondering whether baleen creatures like blue whales or humpback whales can consume jellyfish? Let us find out more about this together.

There have been no documented instances of humpback whales consuming jellyfish. Being baleen animals, humpback whales have plates that sieve their food from the water. Technically, it won’t be difficult for them to swallow jellyfishes since they are gelatinous animals and can easily pass through the baleen plates. However, humpbacks have different dietary preferences.

Humpback whales primarily eat squid, small fishes like haddock, herring, salmon, and krill. They have a very diverse diet, but their favorite food is krill. 

Do blue whales eat jellyfish?

Image Credits: “Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus)” by dave and rose is marked with CC BY 2.0.

Like humpback whales, blue whales are baleen creatures. But do they like eating jellyfish? Let us find out together.

No, blue whales do not like eating jellyfish. In fact, blue whales are very selective when it comes to food and prefer consuming large quantities of krill. Being baleen animals, they can easily derive sufficient amounts of krill from water, and this constitutes their primary diet. Occasionally, they also feed on small schooling fishes and copepods. 

It is worth mentioning here that blue whales are the largest known consumers of krill. They require at least four tonnes of krill per day to sustain themselves. 

Do beluga whales eat jellyfish?

Image Credits: “Beluga Whale” by Mike Johnston is marked with CC BY 2.0.

Curious to know whether beluga whales prey on and eat jellyfishes? Let us find out together. 

There have been no recorded instances of beluga whales feeding on jellyfishes. That being said, beluga whales are toothed whales who are also opportunistic feeders. Therefore, they eat a large variety of marine creatures, including squid, fishes, snails, crabs, and so on. As such, they can easily swallow and digest jellyfishes with ease. 

Being gelatinous creatures, jellyfishes are easy to swallow by most marine creatures, including sharks and whales. This makes them vulnerable to frequent attacks. 

Do gray whales eat jellyfish?

Image Credits: “Gray Whale Fluke, San Ignacio Lagoon Gray Whale Watching 38” by Ryan Harvey is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.

Wondering whether gray whales like eating jellyfishes? Allow us to tell you more in this regard. 

Gray whales eat jellyfishes, although it isn’t their primary diet. Gray whales are invertebrates who prefer consuming plankton, mysids, and shrimps. They are often called opportunistic feeders since they derive their nourishment from various sources, including jellyfishes. It is easy for them to swallow jellyfishes as a whole as they are squishy enough to pass through their baleen plates. 

You will mostly find gray whales feeding on the seafloor, where they leave behind “feeding pits.” They feed on krill, small schooling fishes, and anything that can pass through their baleen plates.

Conclusion

Jellyfishes are found both in warm and cold waters, deep in the ocean, and along the coastline. Their wide availability makes them vulnerable to attacks by whales, most of whom are opportunistic feeders and eat whatever comes their way. Since they are invertebrates, baleen whales can easily swallow them in one go as it passes through their baleen plates with ease. Jellyfishes may sometimes sting potential predators with the help of their tentacles, but there have been no recorded instances of them attacking whales.

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