101 Facts About Blue Whales


  • The blue whale is the largest mammal to have lived on earth.
  • The binomial name for the blue whale is Balaenoptera musculus.
  • Blue whales are found in waters off eastern Canada. They can be found in the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence, off the coast of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and in the Davis Strait. You can also find them between Baffin Island and Greenland. 
  • Blue whales feed on the smallest marine life, such as tiny shrimp-like animals called krill. In one day, a single male can consume 36,000 kg of krill.
  • Blue whales swim at speeds up to 8km/h but can reach a speed of 30k/h.
  •  The blue whale hunts its food by diving and descending to a depth of 500 meters.
  • Despite being the biggest animal in the world, blue whales have a couple of predators. These are sharks and the killer whale. Another main threat to the blue whale is the corrosion from large ships.
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  • The mouth of a blue whale has a row of plates fringed with bristles. These bristles assist it in filtering its main source of food from the water.  In the mouth, there arelong bristles that hold its minute prey.
  • In one mouthful, the blue whale can hold up to 5,000 kg of water and plankton. After forcing water out of its mouth, the blue whale licks the bristles with its fleshy tongue.
  • The blue whale hunts at low depths, but must come to the surface of the water to breathe. When it breathes out, it exhales the air out of a blowhole in a cloud of pressurized vapor. This rises vertically above the water for a distance up to 9 meters. 
  • Female blue whale breeding occurs after the age of three years, and their gestation period takes 11-12 months. Females only give birth to one calf.
  •  A calf is born weighing up to 2,700 kg and 8 meters long. The mother and another female blue whale have to assist the calf in reaching the surface to take their first breathe of air for it to survive after birth. 
  • The calf is fed by its mother up to 600 liters of milk per day. The calf gains 90 kg each day over their first year.
  • Blue whales swim in small groups; however, sometimes they swim alone or in pairs. It is said they form close attachments with other blue whales easily.
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  • The blue whale is the loudest animal on the planet, although humans cannot hear them. They communicate with each other using a series of low-frequency pulses, moans, and groans. It is said that in good conditions, blue whales can be heard by others across a distance of 1,600 km.
  • Blue whales are now known to have spindle neurons. These are brain cells that process our emotions, and that may even enable the whale to feel love or suffering. to love and suffer ·     Blue whales were hunted by human beings seeking to have the whale oil which was said to have medicinal benefits. Many blue whales were killed in the 1900s by whalers.
  • The whaling commission came into effect in 1966 to save the blue whale from hunters.
  • Today it is estimated that only around 10,000 – 25,000 blue whales swim across the oceans in the world.
  • According to the World Conservation Union, the blue whale is currently termed as an endangered animal and red-listed.
  • The blue whale has a tongue that weighs as much as an elephant. The heart is the size of an average car, and its blood vessels are so large that a human being can swim through them.
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  • Blue whales have a long, streamlined body, wide head, huge flippers, a small dorsal fin, and a powerful tail. A few of them have a yellowy-colored underside, which led to blue whales being called “sulfur bottom” whales.
  • A blue whale can grow up to 30 meters long and can weigh up to 130,000 kg, heavier than three lorries.
  • Blue whales can be found in all oceans in the world except the Arctic Ocean
  • The blue whale is classified as a baleen whale. This means their upper jaw have plates which are fringed. The name baleen is from the materials that these plates are made up of that resembles fingernails.
  • Blue whales do not have teeth but use the baleen to eat. They use the baleen first to expand the pleated skin they have in their belly, as well as their throat to take in enormous amounts of water. After the water is consumed, they then use their tongues to filter the krill through the baleen.
  • Blue whales seem to be blue while inside the water, but in reality, the underbelly has a yellowish hue due to the millions of microbes that live on its skin.
  • Blue whale on the upper side underwater still looks bluish yet on the surface they have blotchy blue-gray color.
  • Blue whales are not social with humans and have been known to attack.
  • Blue whales are one of the world’s longest-living animals. They have a life span of between 80 and 90 years. The longest living blue whale recorded is 110 years.
  • The age of a blue whale can be gauged by looking at their earplugs, according to scientists. The earplugs are wax-like and have layers; after counting these layers, scientists can give an estimation of their age. 
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  • The blue whale has one blowhole on top of its head.
  • Blue whales use both their vocalizations and hearing abilities to navigate through the depth of ocean places where light cannot reach. This is a system of echolocation navigation.
  • Blue whales have a big heart which beats at a speed of 5 beats to 6 beats per minutes. When they dive deep, their heartbeats changes to a slower three beats per minutes.
  • Blue whales do sleep, but they sleep while swimming. This is possible as they can utilize half their brain for sleeping while the other half is active.
  • Scientists revealed that the blue whale among other whales evolved from land animals. Scientists call them Pakicetus and they lived 54 million years ago in an area today called Pakistan.
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  • Blue whales have a long tapering body, compared to the stockier build of other whales.
  • Blue whales have a small triangular-shaped dorsal fin, which is situated on the back. This fin measures up to 30 centimeters in height. This fin shape may differ from one blue whale to another. 
  • Blue whale flippers are short, although their tail is broad.
  • Blue whales have a flat U shaped head, and there is a ridge running from the blowhole to the top of the upper lip.
  • The front part of blue whales mouth is thick with around three hundred baleen plates, with each plate measuring around one meter long.
  • Blue whales often migrate. They migrate in winter to temperate and subtropical regions and in spring and summer to polar regions. 
  • The blue whale mating season starts in late autumn and ends at the end of winter. Females give birth once every two to three years at the start of winter. 
  • Blue whale calves are given birth at warm, low latitude waters.
  • The blue whale has one natural predator, the orca. As many as 25% of mature blue whales have scars from orca attacks.
  • Blue whales are endangered, according to IUCN. Their global population has reduced more than 99% during the 20th century. A recent estimate shows that their population is at 10,000 -25000 globally, which puts them among other endangered sea mammals.
  • During mating, blue whales are heard performing songs which are used by males to attract a female to mate with. 
  • The calf in the womb is fed through the umbilical cord, which helps the unborn calf receive food and other vital nutrients. This also helps remove bad chemicals and waste products from the baby body, thus helping it grow healthy and strong. 
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  • Female blue whales feed its calf for up to 6-9 months. Then the calf can feed on its own and will separate from its bond with its mother.
  • When a predator threatens the blue whale, they can swim at a speed of 30 mph for short bursts, but in normal situations, it swims much slower.
  • Blue whales can communicate with each other up to 1,000 miles away due to their loud vocals and excellent hearing. 
  • The blue whale was on the brink of extinction in the 1900s due to intensive hunting in search of whale oils.
  • This sea mammal is said to be the loudest animal on earth, and their vocalizations can lead to other small animals becoming death.
  • Since the commercial whaling of these sea mammals came to an end; they still have other threats. Noise pollution, the reduction of available food, marine contaminants, and collisions with ships all pose a threat to the existence of the blue whale.
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  • Blue whales are long and slender, and their body can be of various shades of bluish-grey dorsally and somewhat lighter underneath. 
  • A 2002 report said there are an estimated 5,000 to 12,000 blue whales all over the world in at least five populations.  This number is said to have almost doubled today.
  • Blue whales fall under the Rorquals family that includes the humpback whale, fin whale, bryde’s whale, minke whale, and sei whale. 
  • In comparison to other whales, blue whales appear to have a long tapering body stretched with the stockier head.
  • The blue whale has between 70, and 118 grooves.  Also called ventral pleats, these run along the throat parallel to the body length.  These pleats help the blue whale to evacuate water from the mouth after lunge feeding. 
  • The blue whale has a dorsal fin, which is only visible when it is diving. The dorsal is small with a height of 28 centimeters and an average length of 20 to 40 cm. 
  • The blue whale has flippers, which measure between 3-4 meters long. The upper side of the flippers is grey with a white border while the lower side is white. 
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  • The blue whale has both a grey head and tail fluke.
  • In history, the longest blue whales recorded were two females which measured 33.6 and 33.3 meters respectively. 
  • Female blue whales are longer than males, but the males are slightly heavier than the females of the same length.  This is due to heavier muscles and bones. 
  • Blue whales feed at depths as krill moves during the day more than 100 meters deep.  Krill feed at the night on the surface. 
  • The blue whale feeds by lunging forward at groups of krill, taking the animals and a large quantity of water into its mouth.
  • During mating, one male blue whale will try to take the place of first male who approached the female.  This results in a race at high speeds averaging from 17 miles per hour to 20 miles. 
  • In St. Lawrence Canada, there is a recorded history of male blue whale racing.  This resulted in physical violence and breaching which is rare in blue whales.
  • A blue whale calf weighs about 2.5 tones and is born around 7 meters long.
  • Young blue whales reached sexual maturity at five to ten years of age. 
  • Blue whales are rarely stranded.  This is due to the fact that they are largely solitary.  Mass strandings are unheard of.
  • The voice produced by a blue whale is between 155 and 188 decibels when measured relative to a reference of one micropascal at one meter.
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  • There are several museums all over the world with blue whale skeletons.  In North America there is a blue whale skeleton at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa, Ontario. 
  • There are blue whale watching attractions along the north of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and in Saint Lawrence estuary. 
  • The blue whale vocalization is said to use to locate prey resources, locate topographic features, and maintain social organization.  They also use this to convey species and individual recognition and to maintain distance from each other.
  • The hunting of the blue whale was to get oil.
  • Blue whale milk is said to have 18,300 KJ of energy content. 
  • Blue whales were abundant in nearly all the oceans on Earth until the beginning of the 20th century when hunting almost made them extinct.
  • Blue whales are regularly seen in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the coast of Monterey, California and Baja California, Mexico.  The southern hemisphere holds most of the Blue whales. 
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  • Each blue whale all over the world owns a unique marking.  This is according to researchers who have applied photo-identification.  They have learnt that the mottled pigmentation pattern is unique to each individual.
  • The blue whale survives on a small diet despite being the largest animal ever to have lived on Earth.
  • Krill is a Norwegian word which means young fry of fish.
  • The blue whale lacks an esophagus to consume large sources of food. This means blue whale could not swallow an adult human.
  • During migration, the blue whale doesn’t have time to look for food and uses the accumulated fat in the body.  It turns this to energy and uses it for travel.
  • The young blue whale is bigger than most fully grown animals.
Blue whale
  • The blue whales are well adapted to the cold seas.  They blubber in their body acts as a built-in thermal insulator.
  • The blue whale does not have skin glands for evaporation.  They use the thickness of their blubber and their blood flow to stay warm.
  • The yellow ventral coloring on the underside is as a result of the accumulation of diatoms in colder water. 
  • The blue whale migrates for two reasons; in search of food and breeding.
  • The blue whale has several names.  Some of these are “sulfur-bottom,” “Sibbald’s rorqual,” the “great blue whale” and the “great northern rorqual.” 
  • The blue whale found in North America fall under the subspecies of B.M Musclus.
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  • Some blue whales have a barely perceptible lump.  Others have a prominent dorsal.
  • The blue whale, when surfacing for breath, raises its shoulders to blow water through the blowhole.
  • The blue whale has a lung capacity of 5, 000 liters.  They have twin blowholes shielded by a large splashguard. 
  • The blue whales found in the North Atlantic and Pacific are smaller on average than those found in Antarctic waters.
  • The blue whale ability to grow is from the low gravity saltwater it takes when deep in the sea in search of food.
  • The appearance of the blue whale being blue is a mixture of color of the sea and the light from the sun.
  • Blue whales migrate long distances from cold water to warmer waters.
  • The blue whale, when migrating does not eat anything for up to four months.
  • The blue whale was once in large numbers, but today they can only be seen in season from one ocean to another. 
  • Blue whales were not easy to hunt due to their large size..

References

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Carwardine, M. (2010). Whales, dolphins and porpoises. London: Dorling Kindersley.

Carwardine, M. (2017). Mark Carwardine’s guide to whale watching in North America : USA, Canada, Mexico, where to go, what to see. London: Bloomsbury.

Hadoram Shirihai, Jarrett, B., Graeme Cresswell and Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Whales, dolphins and seals : a field guide to the marine mammals of the world. London: Bloomsbury Wildlife.

Martin, T. (1990). The illustrated encyclopedia of whales and dolphins. Hodder.

Nowak, R.M. and Walker, E.P. (1991). Walker’s mammals of the world. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Perrin, W.F., Würsig, B.G. and J  G  M Thewissen (2002). Encyclopedia of marine mammals. San Diego: Academic Press.

Richard John Harrison and Bryden, M.M. (1990). Whales, dolphins and porpoises. London: Merehurst.

Williams, H. (1988). Whale nation. London: Cape.

Wilson, D.E. (1999). The Smithsonian book of North American mammals. Washington: Smithsonian Inst. Press.

May, J. (1990). The Greenpeace book of dolphins. London: Century.

Bryan Harding

Bryan has spent his whole life around animals. While loving all animals, Bryan is especially fond of mammals and has studied and worked with them around the world. Not only does Bryan share his knowledge and experience with our readers, but he also serves as owner, editor, and publisher of North American Mammals.

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