The blue whale is the largest animal on the planet. Since the blue whale breathes with lungs and feeds its children with milk, it is a mammal, not a fish. There are only three species – pygmy, northern and southern blue whales, which differ slightly from each other. The blue whale, like all mammals, breathes exclusively with lungs. Of the senses, blue whales have very developed hearing and touch.
Blue whales are the largest animals on Earth. Find out how big these whales are and learn more about these huge marine mammals.
Blue whales are mammals
Humans are also mammals, so both humans and blue whales are endothermic (commonly referred to as “warm-blooded”), giving birth to live young. Whales even have hair.
Because blue whales are mammals, they breathe air through their lungs, just like us. When blue whales exhale, the air rises over 20 feet and can be seen from a great distance.
Blue whales are the largest animals on earth
Blue whales are the largest animal on Earth today and are believed to be the largest animals that have ever lived on Earth. Blue whales can grow to over 90 feet in length and over 200 tons (400,000 pounds) in weight. Imagine a creature the size of two and a half school buses long and you get an idea of the size of a blue whale. The maximum weight of a blue whale is the same weight as about 40 African elephants.
The heart of a blue whale alone is the size of a small car and weighs about 1,000 pounds. Its jaws are the largest bones on Earth.
Blue whales eat some of the smallest organisms on earth
Blue whales eat krill, which are about 2 inches long on average. They also eat other small organisms such as crustaceans. Blue whales can consume 4 tons (8,000 pounds) of prey per day. They can eat a huge amount of prey at one time thanks to their whiskers: 500-800 keratin barbels that allow the whale to filter food from seawater.
The tongue of a blue whale weighs about 4 tons (about 8,000 pounds)
Its tongue is about 18 feet long and can weigh up to 8,000 pounds (the weight of an adult female African elephant). A 2010 study found that when feeding, the blue whale’s mouth opens wide enough for another blue whale to swim through.
Blue whale babies are 25 feet long at birth
Blue whales give birth to one calf every 2-3 years after a gestation period of 10-11 months. The baby is about 20-25 feet long and weighs about 6,000 pounds at birth. Cubs feed on mother’s milk for about 7 months. During this time, they drink about 100 gallons of milk a day and put on weight from 100 to 200 pounds a day. When feeding is stopped at 7 months, they are about 50 feet long.
Blue whales are one of the loudest animals in the world
The repertoire of blue whale calls includes pulses, hums and rasps. Its sounds are probably used for communication and navigation. They have very high pitched voices – their sounds can be over 180 decibels (higher than a jet engine), at 15-40 Hz they are usually below our hearing range (we can’t hear them). Blue whales sing songs.
Blue whales can live for over 100 years
The average lifespan of these animals is estimated at 80 to 90 years.
Blue whales were hunted almost to extinction
Blue whales do not have many natural predators, although they can be attacked by sharks and killer whales. Their main enemy in the 1800s-1900s were humans, who had killed 29,410 blue whales since 1930-31 alone. It is estimated that before whaling, there were over 200,000 blue whales worldwide, and there are now around 5,000.
More facts about blue whales
The heartbeat of a blue whale at depth can drop to two beats per minute. Instead, the heart beats much faster on the surface, up to 34 beats per minute.
Blue whales only look blue underwater. On the surface, their skin is blue-gray.
Blue whales typically travel at speeds of 8 kilometers per hour (5 mph), but can accelerate to nearly 50 kilometers per hour (30 mph) when hunting.
Blue whales have been protected worldwide since 1967.
Blue whales are found in all oceans of the world except the Arctic Ocean.