NOAA on Taxonomy

How does taxonomy relate to marine mammals?

Marine mammals are animals that are warm-blooded with back bones that live in water. This information can also be discovered by looking at marine mammal taxonomic classifications. These classifications allow people to better understand how marine mammals are related to other animals. The chart below is a sample taxonomic chart for blue whales.


Classification Blue Whale Example Explanation
Kingdom Animalia Whales belong to the kingdom Animalia because whales have many cells, ingest food, and are formed from a “blastula” (from a fertilized egg).
Phylum Chordata An animal from the phylum Chordata has a spinal cord and gill pouches.
Class Mammalia Whales and other mammals are warm blooded, have glands to provide milk for their off-spring, and have a four-chambered heart.
Order Cetacea Cetaceans are mammals that live completely in the water.
[Suborder] Mysticeti Whales that belong to the suborder Mysticeti have baleen plates (big filters in their mouths) rather than teeth.
Family Balaenopteridae Also called rorqual whales. They have pleats around their throat that allow them to hold lots of water (which contains their food).
Genus Balaenoptera A genus is a group of species that are more closely related to one another than any group in the family. Balaenoptera refers to the genus.
Species musculus A species is a grouping of individuals that interbreed successfully.  The blue whale species name is musculus.

This portion of the NMML website is intended for a student audience and their educators. Information within the education website should not be cited in scientific journals or publications.

Last revised 26-Aug-14