The largest cetacean in the world is the blue whale, whose scientific name Balaenoptera musculus… Despite claims by some people that some dinosaurs are over 100 feet tall, this beast is the largest animal that ever existed. It can grow up to 100 feet in length, but not by much. Despite its large size, the blue whale is quite elusive. For example, no one has ever seen two blue whales mate and one of them gives birth. As it is critically endangered, it can no longer be collected for study, and some of what scientists know about it is speculative. Here’s something people know about this amazing animal.
What does it look like?
The blue whale is fusiform, which means it is spindle-shaped, tapering towards both ends. This cetacean mostly tapers towards the tail. The top is light bluish-gray, sometimes with gray spots. When viewed through water, it looks blue. The belly is sometimes yellow in color, which gave the animal another name – the sulfur bottom. The yellow color is not the natural color of the animal, but is caused by diatoms clinging to its belly when it swims in cold water.
The blue whale has a row of bristly-parallel plates in its upper jaw called a whalebone. A mustache, which is made up of the same substance as nails, is used to weed food out of the water. The animal has a wide, flat U-shaped beak or rostrum. It has a ridge in the center of its back and two airways. When it comes to air, the impact is strong and oval in shape. The dorsal fin is very small, triangular in shape and rather far behind the tail. The animal also has grooves in the throat that extend beyond the navel. These grooves allow the throat to expand as food and water enter. When a blue whale dives, it lifts its tail out of the water. This is called fluttering, and not every whale does this.
How big is it?
People who visit the American Museum of Natural History in New York can’t help but see a model of a 94-foot blue whale in Milstein’s Hall of Ocean Life. It hangs from the ceiling and dominates the entire space. This specimen is considered large for this species, with the largest of these marine mammals averaging just over 86 feet in length. It is unusual for a blue whale to be much larger than this. Scientists believe that these animals cannot grow more than 108 feet in length because it takes too much energy to maintain a body of this size. Females, by the way, are larger and heavier than males.
In addition to being long, cetaceans can weigh up to 219 short tons, or 438,000 pounds, although, again, most blue whales weigh much less than that.
Why is it so big?
Nature allowed blue whales to grow so large – even though their land-based ancestor was the size of a cat – because it now lives in the ocean. The ocean is not only large enough to accommodate many creatures the size of Balaenoptera musculusbut the growth of the animal is not limited by gravity, as if it were still living on land.
How many species of blue whales are there?
There are about four species of blue whale, plus many subspecies. These subspecies are found in different seas around the world. They are:
one. Balaenoptera musculus musculus
2. Balaenoptera musculus intermedia
3. Balaenoptera musculus brevicauda
four. Balaenoptera musculus indica
The subspecies were divided into groups found in the eastern North Pacific; the central and western part of the North Pacific Ocean; North Atlantic and North Indian Ocean. They are also found in waters around Madagascar, Chile, Indonesia and Western Australia, New Zealand, and Eastern Australia.
Where do blue whales live?
As you can see, these marine mammals inhabit the seas and oceans around the world. It is also known that animals visit shallow water near the coast. Some migrate to feeding and breeding grounds, and some remain in one place year-round.
What does it eat?
Most blue whale populations are known to eat krill, a tiny crustacean that resembles and is related to shrimp. Depending on the season, the cetacean can eat four tons of krill every day. However, there are so many krill in the ocean that it can support a population of not only blue whales, but also other baleen whales, marine animals such as penguins, seals and humans. When the blue whale eats, it simply opens its mouth and lunges forward into a huge cloud of krill. The belly folds allow the throat to expand like fur. He then uses a whalebone to filter out most of the water from his mouth and swallows krill.
Krill are known to practice vertical migration, which means they rise to the ocean surface for 24 hours and then sink to the bottom. Whales feed on krill, which is at the top of the migration, in the middle and at the bottom.
Anything eating a blue whale?
Other animals aren’t even remotely big, strong, or smart enough to hunt blue whales. The exception, of course, are people who were smart enough to build whaling ships and killer whales, or killer whales who are smart enough to hunt in packs and at least try to fight the blue whale. Although scientists do not know how many blue whales are actually killed by killer whales, they have seen a large number of them with bite marks that they believe were killer whales. Killer whales are known to successfully hunt juvenile blue whales, but adults seem to be able to escape them even after being chased for hours.
What other threats?
Thanks to the International Whaling Commission, blue whales are no longer hunted, which almost led to their extinction. However, they face many other threats. They are still being hit and killed by ships. Some are caught in fishing tackle and are disoriented by the sound of the ocean. Their health is affected by pollution, including plastic. Climate change is negatively affecting blue whales as it could reduce the krill population or make it difficult to find krill.
How fast does he swim?
Unsurprisingly, the blue whale isn’t the fastest swimmer in the ocean. A blue whale that tries to dodge a pod of killer whales can reach speeds of 20 miles per hour. Killer whales can reach speeds of up to 28 miles per hour, but only in short bursts.
Reproduction and babies
How blue whales transform into other blue whales is one of the most mysterious things about them. Scientists suggest that a female or cow is ready to breed when she is about 10 years old or 77 feet long, at least if she is from Antarctica. Males or bulls may be ready to breed about a year earlier, and there may be some populations that reach reproductive maturity when they are just five years old. It is believed that these whales breed in the fall and winter, and the females give birth after gestation, which lasts from 10 months to a year. This is considered a short term for such a large animal. The much smaller African elephant becomes pregnant for almost twice as long. Blue whale cows usually give birth every two to three years.
When the calf is born, it is 23 feet long and weighs 6,200 pounds. His mother feeds him until he is seven or eight months old, or 53 feet in length. Whale milk is full of fat, and the calf gains about 198 pounds every day from eating it alone. This means that the mother needs to produce an average of 490 pounds of milk every day.
Do blue whales sing?
Blue whales do “sing”, but their vocal abilities are not as complex as those of humpback whales. However, scientists can distinguish between whale populations by their vocalizations. Sounds also differ depending on the season, where the animal lives, what it is doing at the moment, and whether it is morning, day or night. What sets the blue whale song apart is that it is loud and quiet. This animal can make a sound with a power of up to 180 decibels, which is louder than that of a jet engine. The frequency is most often between 8 and 25 Hz. The latter frequency is practically within the range of human hearing.
Because the vocalizations are so loud and so quiet, they can travel as much as 500 miles across the ocean. Whales use their vocalizations both for talking to other whales and for navigation.
How long do they live?
Scientists estimate that blue whales live in the wild for 80 to 90 years, although the oldest known have lived to be 110 years old. It’s interesting how scientists are figuring out how long blue whales live. As they grow older, earwax is released in the ears of the animal, which over time forms a plug. The layers of wax, like rings in the cross section of a tree trunk, tell the scientist the age of the whale. By the way, earwax does not affect the whale’s ability to hear, but in fact enhances it by transmitting sound waves.