50 Facts About Blue Whales


50 Facts about Blue Whales

Blue Whales are the largest animals to exist on earth! These gentle giants have ruled our oceans for years! It’s not just because they’re the biggest creature in our waters, but because their the loudest, heaviest and longest animals too. Read on to learn 50 facts about Blue Whales.

Fact 1: Yes, they’re the largest animals on Earth. They’re not just gigantic: they’re ginormous! An adult whale can reach from 80 to 100 feet in length.

  • The largest Blue Whale ever recorded had a length of 108 feet.
  • If you are having a hard time picturing it, a Blue Whale is the same size as a commercial aeroplane, or 3 buses, or 6 elephants.

Fact 2: A Blue Whale’s tongue can weigh up to 200 Kilograms. 

  • Their tongues are so huge and very heavy, if it licked you, you might get crushed to death.
  • This is the equivalent to 1 elephant in weight!

Fact 3: Blue Whale’s heart is the same size as a car.

  • If we measured kindness by looking at the size of our hearts, then the Blue Whale would be the kindest creature in the world.
  • Its heartbeat can be heard from over 2 miles away.

Fact 4: The Blue Whales’ babies are the biggest babies to be born. Referred to as a calf, a baby Blue Whale is bigger than many of the animals we know today.

  •  A newborn calf has a weight of 8,800 pounds and is 26 feet long. That’s longer than 4 normal size human adults stuck together.
  • They also have the fastest growth rate. (From birth to adulthood.)

Fact 5: They are very loud animals! A Blue Whale’s moan is about 188 decibels. 

  • By comparison, a commercial jet registers 140 decibels, so a Blue Whale’s moan is a lot louder, just as well their moans are undetectable to human ears!! 
  • The sound they make can be detected up to 1000 miles away. This is the way they communicate with other whales. 

Fact 6: Although they are the biggest creatures in the ocean, they have an appetite for tiny krill. Blue Whales can eat around 9,000 pounds of krill in a day.

  • Krills are small crustaceans found in almost every ocean in the world. They look like shrimps.
  • In one feeding season, Blue Whales can eat up to 40 million krill.

Fact 7: Blue Whales can be considered as ‘jetsetters’ as they travel all the time!

  • During the summer season they go to the Arctic or Antarctic region to feed. 
  • During the winter, they go down to the equator to find a mate.

Fact 8: Blue Whales have almost the same lifespan as humans. The average lifespan of a Blue Whale is 70-90 years.

  • The oldest Blue Whale reached 100 years old.
  • Scientists measure the age of Blue Whales by measuring the amount of wax, per layer in the Blue Whales ears.

Fact 9: Before the 1900s, there was an abundance of Blue Whales in the ocean. But from 1904 to 1967, approximately 350,000 whales were killed.

  • Due to the advancement in fishing, and the value of trove oil coming from whales, humans started hunting whales.
  • In 1931, 29,000 whales were slaughtered in a single season.

Fact 10: Although commercial whaling is no longer a threat to Blue Whales, they remain on the endangered species list.

  • Global warming is a threat to Blue Whales. It destroys their natural habitat and their food.
  • Pollution is also a leading cause of the severe damage found on Blue Whales.

Fact 11: Blue Whales have been in existence for the past 54 million years.

  • They evolved as Blue Whales during the Eocene Epoch, the same time as other modern mammals emerged.
  • Blue Whales were already living on Earth way before humans came to Earth.

Fact 12: In 1966, the International Whaling Commission made commercial whaling illegal.

  • It was because of the sudden decrease in the number of Blue Whales. The number went from hundreds of thousands, to just over four thousand Blue Whales.
  • Hunting a whale can land you in prison for up to 6 years. This move by the IWC allowed the Blue Whales to gradually regain their numbers through natural breeding.

Fact 13: Blue Whales are classified as Baleen Whales, because of their inner mouths’ jaw plates being called ‘baleen’.

  • It’s like the roof of our mouth, just more defined with several fringes. These fringes are made up from a similar material as our fingernails.
  • It helps them filter food, and breaks down krills before swallowing them.

Fact 14: Yes, Blue Whales are actually blue.

  • Although when they surface they have a graying-blue colour.
  • Deep underwater, due to water and light refraction, they have a deep blue colour, thus making their name perfect.

Fact 15: The underside of a Blue Whale is actually yellow.

  • The color is attributed to the millions of microbes living on it.
  • Also, this side is rarely exposed above water, unless they are showing off to their future mate.

Fact 16: During the first year of a baby Blue Whales life, they gain up to 200 pounds per day!

  • From birth, baby Blue Whales live exclusively on milk. It’s nutritious enough to give them the energy to swim with their Mother.
  • The baby calf drinks 100 gallons of milk each day.

Fact 17: Just like bats, they use echo-location when travelling.

  • They are very communicative animal. They send signals to other whales when they are travelling.
  • In areas where light can’t reach, they use echo-location to create a mental image of their surroundings by bouncing sound waves off objects.

Fact 18: Their blowholes are huge, a baby could crawl in and potentially get inside its head.

  • When it breathes out, water shoots out up to 30 feet into the air. 
  • They need to surface twice in an hour to get enough air, so that they can feed more or swim further.

Fact 19:  A Blue Whales’ major veins and arteries are so huge a human baby could pass through them.

  • It’s also the reason why it’s easier for their hearts to pump blood.
  • They use their massive arteries to pump oxygenated blood throughout their organs, even underwater when their heart beats really slow.

Fact 20: Blue Whales are the perfect multi-taskers! They can swim while sleeping.

  • It is because only 50% of their brain is asleep, the other 50% is active.
  • This allows them to maneuver and too easily avoid any potential danger while they are sleeping.

Fact 21: Their heart beats really slow; a Blue Whale’s heart beats at 5-6 beats per minute.

  • In comparison, a human heart beats at 80-100 beats per minute. 
  • It’s even slower when they’re deep underwater, reaching as little as 3 beats per minute.

Fact 22: Blue Whales used to roam around on land, as a four-legged mammal.

  • It is believed that whales descended from Pakicetus, a mammal that resembles a wolf.
  • It was named after the place where they lived, Pakistan.

Fact 23:  Blue Whales ancestors, Pakicetus, were carnivores, eating land-based mammals. Sometimes, they ate fish too.

  • They had a long skull, resembling that of a whales today.
  • They also had the same ear bone structure as whales today.

Fact 24: Blue Whales are toothless.

  • They have a huge and powerful jaw, but instead of teeth they have ‘bristles’.
  • This serves as a filter, so when they eat they can release sand and water back into the ocean and only eat Krills.

Fact 25: They also have small esophagus. Even though they’re big, a human won’t fit in their esophagus.

  • Since they have no teeth, it is impossible for them to break down huge foods.
  • They can only swallow small food, that’s why they only live off Krills.

Fact 26: A Blue Whale pregnancy lasts for 10-12 months.

  • Only 1 calf is produced in each reproductive cycle of a Blue Whale.
  • It takes another 2-3 years after this birth before it can bear another offspring.

Fact 27: A Blue Whale does not have gills. Remember, it’s a mammal, not a fish!

  • Instead, it has 2 blowholes on each side of its head. It works like a human’s nostril. 
  • While feeding, it can stay up to 35 minutes underwater.

Fact 28: When you see a whale jumps out of the water and landing violently, it means they’re afraid.

  • Normally, when Blue Whales surface, they dive neatly into the water. But if they land using their body, it’s their way of signalling to other whales that danger is nearby.
  • This is helpful because Blue Whales are solitary animals, so it’s good that they look out for each other, even if it’s at a distance.

Fact 29: Blue Whales don’t actually blow the water out of their body!

  • Contrary to popular belief, it’s actually air that they blow out. The water that shoots out from their blowholes is caused by the quick condensation created by the warm air coming from the Blue Whale.
  • But you don’t want to be on the receiving end when they blow air because sometimes it’s mixed with mucus.

Fact 30: Blue Whales need a lot of calories every day! Approximately, 1.5 million per day!

  • This is because they need to stock up extra blubber, or fat, to survive the long-distance migration.
  • 1.5 million calories is equivalent to roughly 5,000 cheeseburgers. Don’t worry, every time it swallows food, it can swallow up to half a million calories, eating ⅓ of the daily requirement at a time.

Fact 31: Blue Whales are a very loyal companions to their mates and are more faithful than humans!

  • Although they usually swim alone or in small groups, it has been observed that they do eventually swim in pairs, once they find a mate. Sometimes they can be seen swimming alone when older, this could be because the mate has moved on.
  • They are known to form a deep connection with their partner.

Fact 32: There is only one creature that threatens the lives of Blue Whales: humans.

  • There are no known natural predators of Blue Whales, primarily because of their size.
  • Only humans have a record for killing Blue Whales.

Fact 33: Blue Whales have very small eyes compared to their bodies.

  • This major difference in proportion is mainly because they have no real use for their eyes underwater.
  • Since they communicate through sound, their auditory system is more developed than their eyes.

Fact 34: It’s unfortunate that there’s no sunblock for Blue Whales because they can get sunburn too!

  • Blue Whales have fairer skin compared to other species of whale, that’s why they easily get sunburned when they surface.
  • Scientists think that the increasing size of holes in our ozone layer contributes to the sunburn of these whales.

Fact 35: Blue Whales have unique markings making it easier for scientists to study them.

  • In the late 19th century, there was little information about whales because it was hard to study them.
  • Fortunately, discovering their markings provided insights to scientists on their migration patterns and behaviours. Their mottled skin patterns are so unique it’s impossible for 2 whales to have the same markings.

Fact 36: The migration patterns of Blue Whales are very diverse, it’s hard to make a general conclusion about them.

  • During the feeding season, different groups of whales are spotted in the Antarctic and Arctic waters.
  • After their feeding season, they all swim to different tropical waters. It’s not clear on which ocean is the preferred one either.

Fact 37: Blue Whales don’t have skin glands on their skin.

  • Having no skin glands means water doesn’t evaporate quickly off their skin.
  • Therefore, they rely on their body fat or blubber to keep them warm while they are in very cold waters.

Fact 38: Blue Whales have big and very heavy bones.

  • Yes, it is expected that they will have big and heavy bones because of their sheer size.But they have a purpose.
  • They need heavy bones or they will just float on water. Because of the amount of body fat they carry, they become buoyant, they need their heavy duty bones to balance themselves out.

Fact 39: Blue Whales are very graceful underwater. They look like they glide in the water when they swim.

  • Their tails move in a vertical movement.
  • In contrast, fishes move their tails from side to side.

Fact 40: Blue Whales are so huge, when they dive underwater their heads are already deep down in the ocean, before their tails are completely submerged underwater. Most scuba divers don’t even reach this depth.

  • When whales surface on the water, they dive by jumping high, thus exposing their whole body. Their tails are the last thing to go into the water.
  • Some scientists believe that they do this to encourage a potential mate. 

Fact 41: Blue Whales are not the friendliest animals.

  • They like to keep to themselves, and are commonly seen swimming alone, unless they have paired up.
  • However, during feeding season, there could be around 60 whales in a single spot. Which would be like having 60 aeroplanes in 1 airport, at once.

Fact 42: Blue Whales are supportive of a new Mother and its baby calf.

  • When a new calf is born, the Mother will push the baby to the surface, in order for it to take its first breath.
  • The female Blue Whales nearby will help the mother push the baby to the surface to help it breathe.

Fact 43: If seen from above, and depending on if the fins are in or out, you might mistake a Blue Whale for a submarine.

  • It has the same shape, so for those who are not used to seeing either, it’s an acceptable mistake to assume a whale is a submarine.
  • Also, it doesn’t help that they have almost the same grey colour.

Fact 44: Ships striking are a huge threat to Blue Whales. 

  • The fins of Blue Whales are relatively small, they can’t change direction easily.
  • When ship strikes occur they can’t always get out of the way in time. Fortunately, limiting the speeds on boats has helped lower the number of incidents.

Fact 45: When Blue Whales are ready to find a mate they sing a song.

  • During mating periods Blue Whales go to warmer regions and perform mating calls, or sing songs to attract other Blue Whales.
  • The sound can be picked up thousands of miles away. It’s also one way scientists monitor Blue Whales’ activities.

Fact 46: Blue Whales are very careful not to swim too close to the equator.

  • Their migrating pattern suggests that after their feeding season in the Arctic and Antarctic region, they swim to warmer waters near the equator.
  • But they are very careful not to be too close to the equator, because they overheat due to the thick blubber they carry.

Fact 47: Although they have almost the same lifespans as humans they mature really early.

  • After they are finished being fed milk by their Mothers, they start hunting for their own food.
  • After 5-10 years, they start looking for a partner to reproduce.

Fact 48: It was a Norwegian named Stephen Foyn who devised a way to hunt Blue Whales.

  • It was impossible to hunt Blue Whales because they swam very fast and boats weren’t able to catch up with them.
  • Foyn saw this and decided to attach an explosive harpoon onto his steamboat, to shoot at the Blue Whales. Other people quickly learnt about his method, and soon there was a fast decline in the population of Blue Whales.

Fact 49: During migration, Blue Whales temporarily stop eating and just travel at a very slow pace to conserve energy.

  • They rely almost entirely on their blubbers for their energy. And since they are travelling at 3-6 miles per hour, they don’t spend too much energy.
  • Migration can take up to 4 months. However, if Blue Whales are threatened or agitated, they can burst their speed to 30 miles per hour for a short time.

Fact 50: You can be jailed for killing a whale anywhere in the world.

  • 50 years before new legislations were drawn up, almost 90% of the Blue Whale population had died.
  • Fortunately, after the protective legislation was imposed during the 1960s, their population has bounced back steadily again. But they still remain on the endangered species list, as their reproduction and growth speeds are quite slow.

References:

One Kind Planet

ohFact

Facts Legend

Tree Hugger 

Ocean Wide Expeditions

Fact Animal

Wikipedia

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