12 Facts About the Blue Whale
1. The Blue Whale (balaenoptera musculus) is the largest living organism in the planet. With an average length of 33 meters (108 feet) and weight of 180 metric tons (180,000 kgs) it is considerably bigger than the largest dinosaurs (although loosely discovered dinosaur fossils like sauropod dinosaurs suggest they might be bigger, incomplete fossils couldn’t validate the claim).
2. The Blue Whale belongs to the sub-order Mysticeti under the order Cetacea which refers to baleen whales. Baleen whales possess overlapping filtering plates in place of teeth which they use to filter their food (planktons, krill, etc).
3. Blue Whales are characterized by long and slender body at the varying shades of bluish gray on the upper and lighter shade underneath.
4. B.m. musculus of the North Atlantic and North Pacific, B.m.intermedia of the Southern Ocean and B.m. brevicauda (pygmy blue whale) are three known subspecies of the Blue Whale.
5. Blue Whales were abundant in all oceans of the world but they were hunted nearing extinction at the beginning of the 20th century until an international community agreed to wage for their protection in 1966.
Blue Whale's blowholes
6. Blue Whales have twin blowholes protected by a large splashguard. After surfacing from the water, the Blue Whale discharges a vertical single column spout up to a maximum of 12 meters (39 ft) or at an average of 9 meters (30 ft). The above spectacular feat had only been possible through its lung with an estimated capacity at 5,000 liters (1320 US gallons).
7. Its flippers are 3-4 meters (9.8-13 ft) long and its tongue weighs around 2.7 metric tons (2,700 kgs). When expanded, a Blue Whale’s mouth is large enough to hold 90 metric tons (90,000 kgs) of food and water.
8. Blue Whales were clocked at speeds of 50 km/h (31 mph) over short burst and 20 km/h (12 mph) at average travelling speed.
9. A Blue Whale’s heart weighs 600 kilograms (1,300 lb) and is the largest of all animals. It’s aorta (vein) is about 23 centimeters (9.1 in) in diameter.
10. For the first 7 months, a blue whale calf can consume approximately 400 liters (100 US gal) of milk everyday. Even after birth, Blue Whale calves weigh 2,700 kilograms (6,000 lb) on average.
11. Blue Whales had an estimated life at 80 years. The longest research study of a living specimen was 34 years in the Northeast Pacific. Their only natural predator is the Orca which was shown by studies that 25% of matured species embody scars as a result of Orca attacks.
12. The ICUN Red List counts the Blue Whale as endangered. A 2002 report estimated 5,000 to 12,000 Blue Whales worldwide.