Largest Animal on Earth
The blue whale is the largest animal ever known to inhabit the earth. They weigh on average 150 – 200 tons – which is as much as 15 school buses! Just their tongue can weigh as much as an elephant. Blue whales on average are 80 – 100 feet long (the size of a basketball court!). These amazing creatures usually live 80 – 90 years, but the oldest known blue whale on record was 110 years old.
Under the water, the blue whale is a gorgeous deep blue color however, closer to the surface it can appear greyer. Their body is a sleek, oval shape similar to a submarine. This allows them to gracefully move through the water – sometimes as fast as 20 MPH! Since the blue whale has no natural predators, it can move throughout the ocean worry free.
Despite its impressive size, the blue whale’s diet consists entirely of krill – a small, shrimp-like crustacean. The blue whale scoops up large mouthfuls of swimming krill and then pushes the water through the baleen plates (finger-nail like bristles attached to their upper jaw). This method is known as filter feeding. Once the water is removed, the blue whale is left with thousands of tiny krill trapped in the baleen which are then swallowed whole. The blue whale tends to live in colder waters in the summer as that is where krill are more plentiful and it moves towards the equator during the winter.
The blue whale is also known for its incredible voice. Their vocalizations are deep and loud and can be heard from hundreds of miles away. Scientists believe that they use their song to not only communicate with other blue whales but also as sonar-navigation for the dark ocean depths.
- The average lifespan of a blue whale is 80 – 90 years
- Blue whales are solitary animals and usually live alone or in very small groups known as pods
- Female blue whales are typically larger than their male counterparts
- Blue whale calves feed only on their mother’s milk for the first 6-12 months of their life and can gain as much as 200 pounds per day! That’s the same as an adult man.
- The age of a blue whale is determined by counting the layers of waxy ear plugs – similar to counting the rings on a tree
- It’s been illegal to hunt or kill blue whales since 1966, but they are still endangered due to years of aggressive hunting