Great Blue Whale

Earth’s largest inhabitant.

The great Blue Whale is the largest mammal in the world today and is believed to be the largest mammal that has ever existed on planet earth.

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Blue whales can grow up to 108 feet in length and weigh an incredible 190 tons. Despite their great size and weight blue whales have long streamlined bodies compared to most other whales.

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The head is flat and U-shaped and has a prominent ridge running from the blowhole to the top of the upper lip.

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Between 60 and 90 ventral pleats run along the body extending from the lower jaw to near the navel. These pleats assist with evacuating water from the mouth when blue whales lunge feed.

Blue Whales can be found today in all oceans of the world.

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They migrate to warmer waters in the winter where they breed and to cooler waters in summer. They tend to travel alone or in pairs and sometimes in larger groups of 50 to 60. Blue Whales can swim as fast as 30 miles per hour but their normal cruising speed is roughly 10 to 12 miles per hour and they slow to just 1 to 3 miles per hour when feeding.

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The diet of a blue whale is made up almost entirely of Krill, a small crustacean shrimp-like marine invertebrate animal.

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An adult blue whale will eat roughly 1.5 million krill per day and can eat as much as 40 million krill per day which is roughly 8,000 tons.

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In order to eat such massive quantities of krill blue whales have a series of 250-400 fringed overlapping baleen plates hanging from each side of the upper jaw. These plates consist of a fingernail-like material called keratin that frays out into fine hairs on the ends inside the mouth near the tongue. The plates are black and measure about 20 inches in length toward the front of the mouth and about 40 inches at the rear.

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During feeding, large volumes of water and food can be taken into the mouth because the pleated grooves in the throat expand and as the mouth closes water is expelled through the baleen plates which traps the food on the inside near the tongue to be swallowed. Despite the size of its mouth the dimensions of a blue whale’s throat are such that a blue whale cannot swallow an object wider than a beach ball.

Some Fun Facts About Blue Whales

  • they can dive for up to 36 minutes.
  • their tongues weigh 3 tons.
  • their hearts weigh 1,300 lbs and are as big as a Volkswagen bug.
  • at birth calves weigh 6,000 lbs and are as big as a full grown hippo.

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  • calves will drink 100 to 200 gallons of mom’s milk per day.
  • calves will grow 8 lbs per hour.
  • it is believed they can live up to 80 years.
  • only natural predator is the Killer Whale. 
  • at 188 decibels their low-frequency whistle is louder than a jet and the loudest noise made by any animal.

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The blue whale is an endangered species today due to over-hunting by man. Prior to man hunting the blue whale to near extinction it is believed there were 350,000 blue whales in the world’s oceans. Today it is believed that 10,000 to 20,000 blue whales exist. Blue whale hunting was banned in 1966 and at that time it was believed that just 1-2% of the original total blue whale population was still alive.

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The blue whale is making a comeback today and we can all be thankful for that because the world would be a much poorer place without its largest inhabitant.   

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12 Responses to “Great Blue Whale”
  1. K Kristie Says...

    On March 3, 2009 at 4:40 am

    Very informative article about the earth’s largest inhabitant, loved the pictures!

  2. Jo Oliver Says...

    On March 3, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    What a massive and interesting creature. I can not beleive this joker eats 8 tons of those little bitty shrimp like things. Thank you for an educational and well composed article.

  3. BC Doan Says...

    On March 3, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    Beautiful photos, and very informative article. I love it!

  4. Ruby Hawk Says...

    On March 3, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    Wow, they are larger than I thought and I thought they were huge.Great pics too.

  5. Joe Dorish Says...

    On March 9, 2009 at 8:43 am

    Anybody watch the National Geographic special Kingdom of the Blue Whale? I thought it was decent but have to admit I found the TV show about the Grolar far more interesting and fascinating.

  6. Emily Says...

    On March 18, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    I loved the information within this site. The blue whale is a wonderful creation which anyone would be honored too see in person, any ideas where someone could experience that? Let me know. . .

  7. Joe Dorish Says...

    On March 19, 2009 at 7:09 am

    Hi Emily,

    Thanks for the comment. If you live in the US you can take whale watching cruises from many different seaports along the coasts. I know ports in Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey have them. I’ve taken many of these day cruises and seen different whales but have yet to see a Great Blue whale though I may have seen one a few years back along Cape Cod from the shore. The Great Blues are migratory so you have to go at the right time of year to see them.

  8. Kate Smedley Says...

    On March 19, 2009 at 9:58 am

    What a beautiful whale, informative article and great photos.

  9. Lady Sunshine Says...

    On July 5, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    Great article! They are such majestic creatures. I would love to see one in my lifetime…and capture it on film. What an experience that would be! Thanks for this informative piece on one Earth’s most magnificent creatures.

  10. BENJAMIN Says...

    On November 11, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    I love this site because blue whales are such magnificent
    creatures, I love riding my boat next to them

  11. kitty haruno Says...

    On November 11, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    WTF! why are people killing whales?! what the hell did whales ever do to you! whales don’t even eat people, so why are we killing them?!

  12. mac Says...

    On March 1, 2011 at 3:01 am

    Large but cannot swallow objects larger than beach ball, guess the bible is wrong in this sense, swallowing Jonah, hahahaha………

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