10 blue whale facts
Discover these gentle giants of the sea!
Brace yourselves for a big ocean adventure, gang, with our brilliant blue whale facts. And by ‘big’, we in fact mean absolutely ginormous!
Fast blue whale facts
Scientific name: Balaenoptera musculus
IUCN status: Endangered
Lifespan (in wild): 80-90 years
Weight: More than 130,000kg
Body size: 30m long
1) The largest animals to have ever lived on Earth, blue whales can grow to over 30m long and weigh more than 130,000kg – that’s longer than three buses and heavier than three lorries!
2) Pretty much everything about the blue whale is massive. It’s tongue weighs as much as an elephant, its heart is the size of a car and its blood vessels are so wide you could swim through them!
3) These blue-grey giants have a long, stream-lined body, a wide head, huge flippers, a powerful tail and a small dorsal fin. Some individuals have a yellowy-coloured underside, giving rise to the nickname ‘sulphur bottom’ whales.
4) Blue whales can be found in all of our planet’s oceans, except the Arctic, usually swimming alone or in groups of two to four. But in areas where there’s lots of food available, as many as 60 whales may come together.
5) Despite their humongous size, blue whales eat tiny shrimp-like crustaceans called krill. But they shift a fair few of these seafood snacks – up to 40 million each day, in fact!
6) These marine marvels are a species of ‘baleen’ whale. Instead of teeth, they have baleen, a fibrous material used to filter their food. When eating, the whale lets a huge volume of water and krill into its mouth. It then pushes the water through its 300-400 baleen plates, which trap the tasty grub to be swallowed. Gulp!
7) To communicate with each other, blue whales make a series of super-loud vocal sounds. Their calls are the loudest of any creature on the planet, in fact, and can be heard underwater for hundreds of kilometres.
8) These awesome aquatic animals follow a seasonal migration pattern. During the feeding season, they fill up on krill in cold polar waters. They then travel to warmer, tropical waters to mate and give birth.
9) At birth, blue whale calves measure around 8m long and weigh a massive 4,000kg! They grow quickly, too – for seven to eight months, these bulky babies suckle on their mother’s rich, fatty milk, and gain around 90kg each day!
10) Sadly, in the late 19th early 20th century, blue whales were heavily hunted. And despite a global hunting ban in 1966, their population has declined by 70-90 percent in the past 150 years. With only 10,000-25,000 left in the wild, these magnificence marine mammals are today classified as an endangered species.
Images ⓒ: Blue whale with head out of water: Anthony Pierce, Alamy. Blue whale with back out of water: Sburel, Dreamstime. Blue whale in dark blue ocean: Brandon Cole Marine Photography, Alamy. Blue whale fluke: Richard Fitzer, Shutterstock. Blue whale in light blue ocean: Wolcott Henry, National Geographic Creative. Group of blue whales: Flip Nicklin.