The scientific name for blue whale is Balaenoptera musculus. They are marine mammals and are the largest animal on earth. They can get up to a maximum of 105 feet long and weigh 200 tons (441,000 pounds!). Females are usually longer than males, but males may be heavier with heavier bones and muscles.
Such a huge animal has huge body parts. The heart can weigh 400 pounds and be 5 feet long, 5 feet tall, and 4 feet wide. The tongue can weigh 2.7 tons (5,952 pounds). Their flippers can be up to 13 feet long and penis 8 to 10 feet long. Their brain compared to the size of their body is small at around 15 pounds (a human brain is 3 pounds).
There are 4 subspecies of blue whale:
- Northern blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus musculus), found in the North Atlantic and North Pacific
- Antarctic or Southern blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus intermedia), found in the Southern Ocean/Antarctic Ocean
- Indian Ocean blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus indica), found in the Indian Ocean
- Pygmy blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus brevicauda), found in the Indian Ocean and South Pacific Ocean
Blue whales can swim up to 31 mph, but their average traveling speed is around 12 mph. They typically swim around 43 feet from the surface when traveling, but have been recorded to dive 1,660 feet.
Despite their huge size, their food is small. They mainly eat krill, which are small crustaceans that are usually around 1-2 cm long. To eat, they take in a huge mouthful of water that contain krill. Their mouth can hold up to 90 tons of water and food. Then, they use their tongue to squeeze the water out through baleen plates, leaving the krill behind in their mouth to be swallowed. They can eat up to 40 million krill a day or 7,900 pounds of krill.
Blue whales (and other baleen whales) do not have teeth. Instead, they have baleen plates attached to their upper jaws which are made of keratin, the same stuff your fingernails and hair is made of. Visit this website to see a great picture of a grey whale’s baleen: What are Baleen Plates?
The blue whale is one of the loudest animals in the world. They can get up to 188 decibels, which is louder than a jet engine! A jet engine only gets up to 140 decibels.
Check out this Nat Geo Wild video