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April 20, 2018  |  Login

Blue Whale
Balaeanoptera musculus

What Are They Like?

The blue whale is the world's largest animal. An adult whale can grow to 66-98 feet (20-30 meters) in length and can weigh up to 132 tons (120 metric tons). The blue whale is also the world's loudest animal. Its call, which consists of grunts, moans and humming sounds, has been measured at volumes of 180+ decibels, and is louder than the sound of a jet-engine plane taking off. The whale's long, slender body gradually tapers down toward its tail fins. The skin coloration is mainly a pale blue-grey, and its flippers may be white or a lighter blue on the underside.

Where Do They Live?

Blue whales inhabit the open ocean, and are found in tropical, temperate and subpolar waters worldwide.

Did You Know?
Blue whales live to be 80-90 years old. The oldest blue whale found by scientists was thought to be approximately 110 years old.

How Are Babies Made?

The blue whale is believed to migrate to warmer waters to give birth. A newborn calf measures approximately 24 feet (7.3 meters) in length, and weighs about 2.5 tons. Female whales give birth to a single calf once every two to three years and have a gestation period that lasts between 10-12 months.

What Do They Eat?

The blue whale's diet consists primarily of krill and other small crustaceans. An adult can consume up to four tons (3.6 metric tons) of krill in a single day.

Did You Know?
A baby blue whale gains about 200 pounds (91 kilograms) every day for its first year.

What Do They Do?

Blue whales may be found in small groups or on their own, but usually tend to be paired with a single partner. The most common pairing is mother and calf.  Blue whales are occasionally observed congregating in loose groups to feed. These whales do not have teeth; instead, several strips of flexible baleen plates hang from the upper jawbone. During feeding, a whale takes large volumes of water into it's mouth, and then expels it. The comb-like baleen plates act as a filter, trapping the krill near the mouth and tongue so that the whale is able to swallow them.

How Concerned Should We Be?

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which keeps a "Red List" of species in danger worldwide, lists the blue whale as "endangered." The blue whale's only natural predator is the orca whale, but only one death has been directly attributed to an orca attack. Commercial whaling was previously the main cause behind the drastic reduction in the population. Hunting of blue whales was banned in 1966 by the International Whaling Commission, and the last reported catch occurred in 1978. Current threats to blue whales include entanglement in fishing lines and nets and being accidentally struck by ships.

What's Being Done?

Blue whales are listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which means international trade of blue whales is strictly forbidden. In 1998 the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service created the Blue Whale Recovery Plan, which lays out detailed conservation efforts needed to protect the future of blue whales.


Blue Whale Blue Planet - BBC wildlife

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