30 Interesting Facts About Blue Whales

  1. The blue whale is a marine mammal that belongs to baleen whales. Its closest relatives are fin whales, humpback whales, and sei whales.
  2. The blue whale is the biggest animal to have ever lived on earth. It can reach a length of up to 98 ft. and weighs 200 tons. The blue whale has the largest lungs, heaviest tongue, and largest heart in the animal kingdom. Its heart rate is the slowest among mammals. (Source)
  3. The blue whale has five subspecies: Northern blue whale (in North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans), Antarctic (or Southern) blue whale, Indian Ocean blue whale, South Pacific Ocean blue whale, and Pygmy blue whale.
  4. The Antarctic blue whale is the largest, and the pygmy blue whale is the smallest among blue whales.
  5. Blue whales have the smallest and narrowest flippers relative to their size compared to other whales. Their flukes also cover the smallest area according to body length. (Source)
  6. Blue whales are one of the loudest animals on earth. Their calls can reach more than 180 dB, more than the sound produced by a jet engine. Other whales can hear these voices up to 1,000 miles away.
  7. Blue whales provide several environmental benefits. Their defecation is rich in iron, which complements iron deficiency in the Southern Ocean. It activates phytoplankton growth, which expels oxygen and converts CO2 into energy.
  8. Blue whales also provide a large amount of organic carbon to oceans, especially the Antarctic Ocean. It is necessary for the survival of fisheries and other oceanic animals.
  9. The earliest blue whale fossil, discovered in 2006, is 1.5 million years old. This fossil of a 26 m long whale fossil suggests that baleen whales acquired large size between 3.6 and 6 million years ago. The previous estimate of their enormous growth was 300,000 years ago. (Source)
  10. Only male blue whales sing songs and are noisier than females. They produce separate sounds according to seasons and the time of the day. (Source
    A blue whale on the surface of water
    The color of a blue whale is blue-gray on the surface

  11. Blue whales look blue underwater. However, their appearance on the surface is blue-gray. Millions of microorganisms live on its underbelly, which gives a yellowish shade to this body part.
  12. Blue whales migrate seasonally between summer feeding areas and winter breeding areas.
  13. The primary diet of blue whales is krill, while they can also eat fish and small crustaceans. These filter feeders trap a large number of krill inside their mouths. Later, they secrete the water through the tongue and use baleens to trap the krill.
  14. Blue whales swim either solitary or in pairs. Sometimes, they form small groups.
  15. Killer whales or orcas are the only natural predators of blue whales. A group of orcas can kill and eat an adult blue whale. (Source)
  16. The extensive hunting during the first half of the 20th Century killed more than 340,000 blue whales. Whaling was later completely banned by IWC (International Whaling Commission) in 1966. (Source)
  17. Blue whales can mate with fin whales. In 2018, the DNA of a whale killed near Iceland proved to be a hybrid of a male fin whale and a female blue whale. (Source)
  18. Like many other baleen whales, females are larger than male blue whales. 
  19. Blue whales can live for about 90 years. Wax-like earplugs provide a clue about the age of blue whales.
  20. Blue whales usually swim at 5 mph. However, they can exceed speeds up to 20 mph for short bursts in extraordinary situations.
  21. Blue whales usually dive less than 100 m for feeding. However, they can dive deeper up to 500 m. These whales can dive for more than 10 minutes.
  22. The timing and distance of the blue whale migration depend on its memory. These mammals migrate to a place when there is sufficient food available. (Source)  
  23. Blue whales give birth every two to three years. The pregnancy lasts for nearly 12 months and reproduces a single calf. In the case of twin birth, only one calf survives due to the limited availability of milk.
  24. The newborn blue whales are more than 20 ft. long and can weigh up to 3 tons. During their first year, the calves drink only their mother’s milk and add 90 kg of weight every day.
  25. Hearing is the sharpest sense in blue whales. It assists them in communication and sonar navigation. Comparatively, their senses of taste, smell, and sight are weak.
  26. The blue whale is listed as endangered by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature). The Antarctic subspecies is “critically endangered” due to less than 1% of the current population compared to its pre-whaling population.
  27. Currently, primary threats for blue whales are strikes from ships and fishing gear. Other potential threats for these whales are pollution, climate change, ocean noise, etc.
  28. Like other whales, flukes (tail fins) in blue whales are unique, like fingerprints in humans. Scientists use them to identify each whale.  
  29. Blue whales are present in all the oceans except the Arctic Ocean.
  30. Blue whales can open their mouth four times their original size. It allows them to take the amount of water more than the volume of their body.

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