All About The Blue Whale: The Planet's Largest


Photo: eco2drew via Getty Images

 

Today we'll be profiling the world's largest living creature - The blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus)

It can weigh up to 200 tons and grow as long as 100 feet. Sadly, this gentle giant's size is one of the main reasons it was once hunted to near extinction.

So buckle in as we will explore more about this magnificent giant of our world!

Description and Appearance

Photo: richcarey via Getty Images

 

The blue whale is a marine mammal that belongs to the baleen family. It has a black body with a light-colored "bluish" back and flippers. The underside of its body is white.

Its head is relatively small in comparison to its body and it has a short, pointed snout. Blue whales have 270-400 baleen plates on each side of their mouths. These plates are made of keratin, the same material that human fingernails and hair are made of.

They've two blowholes on the top of their head. When they breathe out, the air comes out in a distinct V-shape.

Diet

Blue whales are filter feeders - meaning that it eats by straining huge amounts of water through their baleen plates to trap small prey like krill, amphipods, and copepods.

To do this, the blue whale first swallows a large mouthful of water. It then forces the water out through its baleen plates using its tongue. The plates trap the prey, which the whale then swallows.

A single blue whale can consume up to 40 million of these tiny creatures in a day! That's the equivalent of eating 12 elephants!

Hugging one, however, is like hugging 20 sheep! If it’s from Gage Beasley, that is. The Giant Lifelike Blue Whale Soft Stuffed Plush Toy is everything you’d imagine it to be: huggable and can put you right to sleep! This big of a plushie deserves to be in your bed arsenal!

Gage Beasley’s Giant Lifelike Blue Whale Soft Stuffed Plush Toy

Reproduction

Blue whales reach sexual maturity at around age six. They mate during the winter months and give birth to a single calf two years later.

The calf nurses for up to 12 months, but will start eating small amounts of krill when it's about six months old. 

A blue whale's gestation period is thought to be around 12 months. Once the calf is born, it's fully grown at 23 feet long but will continue to grow until it reaches its full size at around age 30.

Distribution & Habitat

Photo: bbevren via Getty Images

 

Blue whales are found in all the world's oceans - from the poles to the equator. They're often seen in groups, but can also be found alone or with other whale species.

During the summer months, they tend to stick to coastal waters. But in the winter, they migrate to deeper waters where it's easier to find food.

Blue whales are often seen near Japan, Iceland, and California.

Conservation

Blue whales were once hunted to near extinction. Today they are considered still endangered species but numbers are slowly starting to rebound.

The main threats they face are collisions with ships and getting caught in fishing nets. Fortunately, there are now laws in place to help protect these gentle giants.

Other Interesting Facts

  • When they dive, blue whales can hold their breath for up to 20 minutes!
  • They have the loudest voice of any animal on Earth.
  • Blue whales are thought to live up to 110 years old.
  • They can swim up to 25 miles per hour.
  • It's said that a blue whale's heart is the size of a small car!
  • A baby blue whale grows about eight feet per day during its first year.
  • In the 1990s, a blue whale was found that had been killed by a harpoon. It was over 102 feet long and weighed 190 tons!

Final Thoughts

The blue whale is an amazing creature and definitely deserves our respect. It's the largest animal on Earth and can live for up to 110 years! It's also one of the fastest swimmers, reaching speeds of up to 25 miles per hour.

It's important that we do what we can to help protect these gentle giants so they continue to thrive for generations to come.

What are your thoughts on blue whales? Share in the comments below! And be sure to check out our other blog post about cool animals!

Cheers!

~GB


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