The blue whale is the largest living animal in existence.
This massive marine mammal can reach lengths in excess of 100 ft. and weight more than 150 tons when it is fully grown!
Even their children are big and can easily measure in at over 23 ft at birth (which is comparable in size to an adult killer whale).
Note: The killer whale is also the largest marine mammal in the dolphin family.
Despite the blue whales massive size its primary diet consists almost solely of krill, a tiny sea creature that measures in at a meager 1 – 2 centimeters on average (although some species of krill can reach a maximum length of around 6 inches).
In order to maintain their food supply (blue whales can consume as many as 40 million krill per day) these whales are often found in areas where krill is largely abundant.
Some of the locations blue whales can be found living in include Antarctica, the North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans and the Indian Ocean.
Blue whales belong to the baleen whale suborder and are known as filter feeders.
These whales do not have teeth, instead they hunt their food by swimming towards it with their mouth open and engulf as many krill as possible.
They then expel the water from their huge mouth by pushing it out with their tongue while leaving the krill trapped inside their baleen bristles.
The baleen bristles look similar to the bristles found on a comb and act as a filter by allowing water to pass through the openings while remaining packed tightly enough to prevent food from escaping.
Interestingly despite this animals massive size they have relatively small throats, so small in fact (typically less than 12 inches) that it would be impossible for them to swallow an average sized person.
While these whales can be seen traveling in most of the worlds major oceans they tend to prefer cold climates particularly where large abundances of krill live.
When mating season comes around these whales travel thousands of miles from their feeding grounds to their mating grounds and may completely forgo eating the entire trip which could last as many as four months.
Even during migration these whales are particularly laid back when it comes to swimming.
On average blue whales are known for traveling an average of around 5 miles per hour although they can reach speeds of up to 20 miles per hour when they feel threatened.
During mating season blue whales can be heard performing whale songs which are believed to be used by males to attract a female to mate with.
Once mating is complete it takes an average of 10 – 12 months for the female to give birth.
From what little is known about the blue whale mating habits it is thought that the female whale gives birth to a single offspring once every 2 – 3 years.
10 Interesting blue whale facts for kids
- When fully grown a 180 ton blue whale can weigh as much as 24 adult elephants; in fact their tongue alone can weigh as much as an elephant. (elephants can weigh as much as 15,000 lbs!)
- Blue whales can consume up to 8,000 lbs or 4 tons of krill on a daily basis.
- A baby blue whale can consume up to 150 gallons of milk per day during its first year of birth.
- When in search of food the blue whale has been recorded diving deeper than 300 ft. and holding its breath for more than 35 minutes (most dives last 10 – 20 minutes or less).
- The blue whale isn’t truly blue in terms of color; it’s actually a grayish blue coloring that appears deep blue only after the whale dives under the water.
- When startled or threatened these marine mammals can reach speeds in excess of 30 mph for short bursts, however in most cases they manage an average speed of 3 – 12 mph.
- The only natural predator to the blue whale is a pack of hungry killer whales, however these attacks are fairly rare more often performed on young children and/or smaller blue whales rather than large adults.
- Because of their large size blue whales often travel alone or in small groups. Their large size provides these marine mammals with an excellent defense as their massive body deters most predators from attempting to attack them.
- During long migrations the blue whale is known to fast for as long as four months and live off of stored body fat that it accumulated during feeding season.
- Blue whales can communicate with one another from as far as 1,000 miles away due to their loud vocals and excellent hearing.