Catching a glimpse of the incredible blue whale, the largest mammal known to exist, is an experience of a lifetime available through Harbor Breeze Whale Watching cruises. But their great size is not the only interesting characteristic of these gigantic sea mammals. The following blue whale facts and information about blue whales will introduce you to the blue whale before your whale-watching trip:
One of the lesser-known blue whale facts is that when viewed under the water, the light of the sun can give these incredible sea mammals the appearance of a deep, blue color. In actuality, blue whales have more of a grayish blue color above the water line. The underbelly of a great blue whale is yellowish in color, due to the millions of microorganisms living in their skin.
Surprising information about blue whales many are surprised to learn is that adults can weigh in at more than 150 tons, and can grow to be over 100 feet long. Their streamlined bodies allow them to swim up to 25 miles per hour when in danger, though they typically move around 5 miles per hour.
From above, the blue whale has an oval shape, similar to that of a submarine, with a flat, broad head and tapered body. They possess a small dorsal fin and flippers used for steering. Interestingly, the flippers of the blue whale measure about 12% of the entire length of the whale.
A member of the baleen whale family, the blue whale does not have any teeth. Instead, they use baleen plates to catch prey. These baleen plates are comprised of bristles that act as a net to capture prey while also allowing water to flow in and out of the mouth.
Information about blue whale habitat shows that these giant sea mammals can be found in the upper and lower northern and southern hemispheres, in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. Come mating season, during which blue whales will travel thousands of miles, they can be found in warm tropical waters, including the Gulf of Mexico and off of Costa Rica.
Blue whales are cognizant of how close they come to the equator, as they are at risk for overheating because of their incredible size and abundance of blubber.
Despite being such large marine mammals, the blue whale actually relies on very small ocean creatures for sustenance. In fact, their diets primarily consist of krill and other small creatures such as copepods. A blue whale fact not commonly known is that the blue whale has a fairly small esophagus and cannot chew large prey into smaller pieces due to lack of teeth.
To feed, the blue whales utilize a method of eating known as “filter feeding.” Information about blue whale feeding habits has found that this method works by the blue whale first swimming towards a large group of krill with its mouth open. Once the krill are inside, the blue whale will close its mouth and push the excess water out with its tongue. The krill are unable to escape thanks to the thick, net-like bristles of the baleen.
The breathtaking blue whale can be found in many oceans, including the Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, and Antarctic Ocean. A surprising blue whale fact is that their exact migration routes are not entirely known, but they can travel for thousands of miles between feeding and mating grounds. Blue whales will typically spend the feeding season in cold, polar waters. During mating season, blue whales will follow their prey and migrate to the warmer tropical waters. It is during this time that pregnant female blue whales will give birth in these steady waters. Blue whale migration can last for up to four months depending on the route taken.
During their migration journey, blue whales do not engage in any feeding activities.Scientists have found that they rely on their large amounts of blubber and body fat to live off of. To ensure they make it to there destination without completely depleting their stored calories, the whales will swim at an average speed of 3-6 miles per hour.
After the long journey to their mating grounds, blue whales will spend the next few months socializing, mating, and giving birth before making the trek back to their original feeding grounds.
Research and information about blue whale communication have found that these large sea mammals are not pack animals, and instead spend most of their time alone or in very small groups. When communication between blue whales is necessary, they utilize loud, low-pitched whines and moans. The sound of a blue whale moan can be heard for miles from the location of origin.
The most vocal period for blue whales occurs during mating season, during which adult blue whales will engage in mating calls. A blue whale mating “song” can travel deep below the surface of the water.
In addition to finding a mating partner, blue whales are believed to emit moans and whines to express grief after the loss of a pod member, or to locate other pod members.
There is surprisingly little information about blue whale reproduction, though it is known that the gestation period lasts between 10-12 months. When it comes time to deliver, female blue whales will give birth to a single offspring.
A newborn blue whale will typically measure between 20 and 25 feet long, already between one fourth and one third the length of an adult blue whale. For up to the first 9 months of the baby blue whale’s life, it will rely on it’s mothers milk for nutrients.
Once male and female blue whales reach between 5 and 10 years of age, they can then begin to mate and reproduce themselves.
An incredible blue whale fact is these sea creatures can live for up to a impressive 90 years old.
While you may think there would be no threats to the blue whale population because of their size, this is not the case. The greatest threat to the existence of blue whales has been poachers and whalers hoping to sell the oil produced by these whales to produce various products. Fortunately, this threat has been greatly diminished due to the outlawing of commercial whaling.
Today, important information about blue whales is that they are at risk for the harmful effects of pollution, global warming, and dangerous interactions with fishing gear, boats, and ships.