19 Interesting Facts About Blue Whale

Blue whales- the beautiful bluish-grey marine mammals were large in number in nearly all the oceans on Earth until the start of the 20th century. For more than a century, they were hunted to the point of extinction by whalers. The largest animal ever to live on earth, it is difficult to even imagine their size. Let’s dive into the marine world to explore some interesting Blue Whale facts.

blue whale

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Image: flickr

1. Humongous creatures

Blue Whale Skeleton
Blue Whale Skeleton

Of the creatures that have inhabited the Earth, blue whales are the largest. One of the largest known dinosaurs the Argentinosaurus, estimated to have weighed up to 90 tonnes, Amphicoelias fragillimus, at 122.4 tonnes is still lighter than the largest blue whales. Of the recorded measurements, there have been numbers figuring between 150 and 170 tonnes. They can be as long as 30m.
Source: wikipedia, image: wikimedia.org

2. Elephant sized tongue

One can understand that since the animal is large the organs would be jumbo too. The tongue of a blue whale weighs little short of three tons (as much as an elephant) whereas, it’s mouth is large enough to accommodate 90 tonnes of foods.
Source: wikipedia

3. Wonder what this giant snacks on?

Northern Krill

Here’s a bummer, despite being so large blue whales eat just krill or Copepods in small numbers. An adult can eat an estimated number of 40 million krill in a single day. Not only this, they like to feed at 100m depth during the day but during the night they feed at the surface.
Source: wikipedia, image: wikimedia.org

4. Whalesong

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Whales communicate through whale sounds, but there is a mystery behind this. The purpose for which whales make calls is yet uncertain. They could be used to locate prey, warn others of danger, maintain distance between each other, mating and for recognition. Blue whales off the coast of Sri Lanka are unique in this regard. They have been recorded making “songs” of four notes, for about 2 minutes each- a phenomenon hat has not been seen in any other.
Source: wikipedia

5. Baby whales

Whale with calf
Whale with calf

The baby whales weigh around 5 to 7.5 tonnes (2,7000 kg) and up to 8m long. They stay with their mothers for a period of one year or until they reach a length of 13m. They reach maturity when they are 10-15 yrs old. Drinking more than 600 liters of milk everyday baby whales gain as much as 3.7kgs in an hour.
Source: us.whales.org, image: wikimedia.org

7. Ancestors

Hippopotamus
Hippopotamus

The Blue whales are said to have evolved from hippopotamuses. Whales developed streamlined shape responsible for graceful movement through water, their fins from the front limbs and reduced their hind legs and developed strong and wide tail sized like a professional soccer net.
Source: softschools.com, image: wikimedia.org

7. Hunting

Whale and fishesBlue whales do not possess teeth. Their jaws are powerful and contain bristles. The whales swim to where Krills are present in huge numbers and just swallow them along with water. The water is spat out with tongue while the krill is stuck in the bristles. Once the water is completely removed whales swallow the prey wholly.
Source: whalefacts.org, image: opencage.info

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8. Small Oesophagus

Blue whale mouthEven though whales are large creatures they can digest only a small amount of food at a time. This is because they have narrow oesophagus. Without teeth it is not possible for the blue whales to break food into smaller pieces.
Source: whalefacts.org, image: abc.net.au

9. Noisy creatures

Another blue whale fact is that though it’s difficult to hear Blue Whales, but they actually are one of the loudest animals on Earth. Whales communicate through a series of low frequency pulses, groans, and moans. It is believed that they can hear each other over a distance of up to 1,600 km in good conditions.
Source: whalefacts.org

10. Reproduction

Blue whales undergo pregnancy periods of 10-12 months which end with the birth of a single offspring. Females tend to outgrow males when they reach maturity. A fertile female can have offspring in the intervals of 2-3 years.
Source: whalefacts.org

11. No gills

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Blow holes of a Blue whaleShocking right? Blue whales do not possess gills. This means they cannot extract oxygen from water to breath. A blowhole is located on top of their head and is used for sucking in large amounts of air when it swims to the surface. The blue whale has two instead of one blow hole unlike other species. They can hold their breaths up to 35 minutes underwater.
Source: whalefacts.org, image: wikimedia.org

12. Migration

When it is the feed season, krills tend to move towards cool waters. The whales too tend to move there and feed on the krills. When mating season begins they move to tropical waters. These trips of migration could involve traveling thousands of miles. During the feeding season blue whales will eat and stock up extra fat to form blubber. This helps them survive migration without having to feed.
Source: whalefacts.org

13. The blue color of Blue Whale

Whale Blue whales look mottled grey over the surface. When underwater they appear solidly blue. Micro organisms live in their skin of the belly. This gives a yellowish coloration to the belly.
Source: whalefacts.org, image: flickr

14. Signals

pilot-whalesBlue whales tend to breach (jump high) and land on water. A sign to communicate nearby danger is to thrust the tail out and slap the surface of water.
Source:defenders.org

15. Not blowing water

blue whale blowing waterWell, till date, several movies have shown whales spout a jet of water through their blow hole. It is not phony but whales do not blow water out. They simply exhale air warmer than the temperature of the waters on the surface which leads to quick condensation. This is what makes it appear as though the whale is spraying a whole lot of water. There is mucus mixed too.
Source: todayifoundout.com, image: flickr

16. Huge lungs

Blue whales can hold their breath for a long time. Several factors help to make this possible. 90 percent of the inhaled oxygen is made use of by the mammal. In addition to that the capacity of the lungs is approximated at 5000 liters. The blue whale can hunt for long inside. As stated earlier, the breathing tract and food tract are different. This makes it all the more convenient to hold the breath and make the kill.
Source: todayifoundout.com

17. Blow Holes or nostrils

Humpback Whale, blowholesBlow holes function similar to nostrils. Blue whales have two blow holes located on the left and right side of the head. So, it is pretty much like humans who breath through one nostril most of the time.
Source: todayifoundout.com, image: wikimedia.org

18. Pleats

Humpback whale baleenBlue whales possess longitudinal pleats. These pleats can expand to allow the mammal to take in a huge quantity of water with the prey in it. This water is expelled and the prey is then swallowed. as many as 55-68 pleats can be seen and they run all the way to the belly button. One can expect the mouth to expand 6 times.
Source: coolantarctica.com, image: wikimedia.org

19. At the brink of extinction

Humpback Whale underwaterBefore whaling era Blue whales were considered apex predators and did not feel any threat. In the era when whales were hunted their populations declined rapidly as their oil was sold for use in products commercially. As the numbers declined laws were framed to fine and jail offenders. Blue whales have now been listed as a protected species.
Source: whalefacts.org, image: wikimedia.org

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