interesting facts about blue whale Blue whales are the largest animals live in the world these magnificent marine mammals rule the oceans at up to 90 feet long upwards of 200 tons their tongues alone can weigh as much as an elephant their hearts as much as an automobile. The blue whales have three major discrete categories; there is the Balaenoptera musculus which inhabits the North Atlantic and Pacific, Balaenoptera musculus intermedia found in the Southern Ocean, and Balaenoptera musculus brevicauda that dwell in the Indian Ocean and South Pacific Ocean. The blue whale is believed to be among the largest animal to ever exist. Blue whales are lightly spotted and are bluish-grey with lighter undersides. The lighter undersides are because of accumulation of algae in the colder water, hence the name Sulfur bottom whale. A blue whale has a flat head that is U in shape; it also has a protruding edge that runs from the blowhole to the upper lip. Moreover, the front part of the whale’s mouth comprises 300 baleen plates that help in emptying water from the mouth during feeding. Let’s dive into the marine world to explore some interesting facts about the Blue Whale:
Habitat: Antarctic Ocean, North Atlantic Ocean, North & South Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean
Location: Virtually all oceans.
Lifespan: 80 – 110 Years
Size: 80 – 108 ft (24 – 30 m)
Weight: 330,000 – 441,000 pounds (150 – 200 tonnes)
Color: Deep Blue-Grey
Diet: Krill (Shrimp-like crustaceans)
Predators: No Natural Predators. However, there have been some Killer Whale attacks.
Top Speed: 50 Kph (31 Mph)
No. of Species: 1
Conservation Status: Endangered
32 Interesting Facts about the blue whale
- The mouth of the blue whale contains a row of plates that are fringed with ‘baleen’, which are similar to bristles.
The bristles are used to filter food from the water that the whale takes in its mouth when feeding. A mouthful of water for the Blue Whale is about 5,000-kilograms of liquid and plankton. As the whale forces the water out of its mouth, the bristles act to capture and trap the food. The whale then licks the bristles clean with its massive tongue, which allows it to swallow the plankton.
- The tongue of the blue whale is as big as an elephant.
Aside from cleaning krill from the plates in its mouth, the blue whale tongue weighs about as much as an elephant, or a daily car. 1
- The blue whale was once hunted for whale oil.
In the 1900s blue whales were extensively hunted, which severely impacted their population. Hundreds of thousands of them were massacred for their oil, which is obtained from their blubber. Historically whale oil was widely used in oil lamps, and to make soap and margarine.
- Blue whales were hunted almost to extinction until they were protected in 1966.
The hunting for whale oil was so excessive that records suggest approx. 380,000 whales had been caught. The International Whaling Commission deemed the blue whale as a protected animal which has allowed it to breed safely. 2
- The blue whale population size is slowly increasing.
However, their population has not grown back to previous levels. Pre-whaling, there were estimated to be around 240,000 blue whales globally. The numbers today are estimated to be between 3-11% of the pre-1911 population size. 3
- A blue whale weighs as much as 200 tonnes. Or, 150 Honda Civics.
They are the heaviest animals known to ever live on the planet.
- Blue whales make few friends in the water.
Although it is common for them to just swim around the many oceans on the planet alone or in a pair, the blue whale will from time to time swim in a small group. Where food is readily available, as many as 60 blue whales may come together.
- The blue whale is not only the world’s largest animal but also the loudest.
The human ear can’t pick them up underwater, but the blue whale happens to make the loudest noise of any animal, up to 188 decibels, which is louder than a jet engine. The blue whale talks with low-frequency moans, groans, and pulses.
- The blue whale has incredible hearing.
Because the Blue Whale communicates with sounds that are such a low frequency, under the correct conditions, one can communicate with others and be heard as far as 1,600-kilometres away.
- Although a mostly solitary animal, the blue whale forms bonds.
Probably due to the long lifespan of the blue whale, it has the ability to form an attachment to another living creature that spends time with one.
- Actions displayed by blue whales appear that they have feelings.
This belief is backed up by how whales that wash ashore will show affection towards those who rescue them as if to say thank you.
- The reproductive cycle for the blue whale is rather slow.
Breeding occurs just once every three years. Pregnancy is usually between 11 and 12 months.
- Following such a slow reproductive cycle, blue whale families are small.
Usually, females will give birth to just one calf.
- A Blue whale calf is anything but a little baby.
The newborn calf will weigh as much as 2,700-kilograms and measure 8-metres or more in length.
- A Blue whale calf grows fast.
The calf will gain roughly 90-kilograms of weight per day in its first year of life.
- The Blue whale calf has a huge appetite.
As it is suckled in the water, a calf will consume over 600 liters of mother’s milk per day in its first year.
- Blue whale mothers nurture their young.
A female will lift her newborn calf to the water surface in order for it to take its first breath of air. Other females that may be nearby will help by nudging the newborn in an effort to encourage it to break the surface and breathe.
- Blue whales have a blowhole to breathe, similar to our nose!
When one surface, it exhales through the blowhole at the top of its body. A cloud of pressurized air is sent as much as 9-metres in the air due to the force of exhalation. They tend to come up for air between every 5-15 mins – but can go for longer without breathing.
- Blue whales have a huge heart.
Aside from having feelings and showing affection, the average blue whale heart is as big as a mid-sized car. The beating of this massive heart can be heard as far as 2-mile away. Their blood vessels are so wide you could swim through them. What we are saying is, they are big. Very big.
- The blue whale resembles a well-known sea craft.
When viewed from above, aside from having fins and a fluke, the Blue Whale can easily be mistaken for a submarine – as it has the same basic aerodynamic shape.
- The steering equipment is relatively small on a blue whale.
They use their flippers for maneuvering around underwater, but the blue whale flipper is just 12-percent of the overall size of the mammal.
- Killer whale (Orcas) rarely attack adult blue whales but may prey on young calves occasionally.
Typically, killer whales pick on prey smaller than them. While the blue whale is quite passive, due to their sheer size, it usually deters groups of killer whales. 4
- Research suggests ship strikes are a threat to blue whales, although relatively minor.
Whale-ship collisions might be partly behind the low blue whale population counts, despite international protections since 1966. However, studies suggest the risk is still fairly low, and that reducing the speed limit of vessels in shipping lanes helped reduce strikes by 80%.5
Cool interesting facts about blue whale
- Few In Number
Catching blue whales was impossible in the past because of their size and speed. However, a Norwegian by the name Stephen Foyn enhanced his steamboat with explosive harpoons. His discovery led to the demise of the blue whales as the invention made it easier for the whales to be hunted down. Initially, Antarctic had the largest population of the blue whales but the number narrowed down to 360 whales after they had been hunted down severely. The remaining number of blue whales is proportional to 0.15 percent of the original number of whales.
- Introverted Creatures
Blue whales like to travel by themselves single-handedly, and if they have to travel in groups, then their groups do not exceed two whales. Their pairs may often include a mother and her calf or two adults. Blue whales stay several kilometers apart even as they travel in sets due to their timid nature. Blue whales only come together during feeding times.
- Ability To Rush
Blue whales often travel great distances, as they move from Polar Regions where they feed during summer and head to the equator as winter approaches. Blue whales can travel up to speeds of 31 miles (50 kilometers) per hour when interacting with other whales, but their normal speed is about 12 miles (20 kilometers) per hour. When feeding, they decelerate to speeds of 5 kilometers per hour.
- Long Lifespan
Blue whales have long lives and are among the earth’s longest-living mammals. Their average lifespan is said to be about 80 to 90 years, although the oldest known blue whale lived for 110 years. The survival of the blue whales depends on whether there is pollution in the water, human beings hunting them down or if there is an inadequate food supply.
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