Friday, June 8, 2012

Blue Whale

Balaenoptera musculus
Happy World Oceans Day everybody! And what animal could represent the oceans better than the largest one in them? Meet the astonishing Blue Whale, the biggest creatures to have ever lived!

Blue Whales can reach lengths of up to 100ft, and weigh nearly 400,000lbs. That is incredible! Their hearts are the size of a small car, and their tongues can weigh as much as an elephant! In fact, right at birth they are already one of the largest animals on the planet. A newborn can measure over 25ft long and weigh 3 tons. (They also will grow 200lbs every single day!)

It is amazing to think that an animal so massive has a diet that is based exclusively on tiny little crustaceans called Krill. During the Arctic summers, they can consume up to 4tons of Krill in a single day! They feed by gulping a huge amount of water into their mouths, expanding their mouths and belly out in the process. They then push the Krill up into their baleen plates and strain the water out, leaving only the tasty little crustaceans behind.

Blue Whales can be found in all of the world's oceans, and they often migrate long distances between the poles and the equator every year. They typically travel alone, but are sometimes found in very small groups. Even if they are alone, they can still find one another with relative ease, considering they are the loudest animals out there. Their low frequency, 188 decibel sounds can be heard hundreds of miles away!

Comparison between an average Blue Whale,
a human, and  a Hector's Dolphin
So we've already learned that the Blue Whale is the largest animal, and the loudest. But did you know they are also one of the most long lived? Scientists estimate that their average lifespan is 80-90 years, and that ages of well over 100 are common.

Unfortunately, Blue Whale populations aren't doing so hot. They were absolutely decimated during the commercial whaling boom, with hundreds of thousands being killed before the ban. Hunting of the species has been outlawed since 1966, but recovery has been slow. Blue Whales are listed as Endangered, and there may be less than 10,000 left in the entire world, with most being found in the Northern Hemisphere.

IUCN Status : Endangered
Location : Oceans Worldwide
Size : Length up to 98ft (30m), Weight up to 200tons (180 metric tons)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Cetacea
Family : Balaenopteridae -- Genus : Balaenoptera -- Species : B. musculus

1 comment:

  1. the immense size of the Blue whale is one of the most well known Blue whale facts. Truly realising how large Blue whales can become are however difficult, since we typically see them filmed in the ocean where there are not a lot of familiar objects to compare them with.


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