Interesting Facts About Humpback WhalesNovember 12, 2018
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It goes without saying that whales are the largest mammals on the planet. Not only that, certain whale species are the largest mammal on the history of the planet (yes, this includes prehistoric animals like dinosaurs!).
So just how big are whales?
Whales are a widely diverse clade of aquatic animals and their sizes vary species to species. Because each whale species has its own special size characteristics, we will walk through a list of whales by size to give you a full perspective of the size and scope of different types of whale species.
List of Whales by Size
- Blue Whale – the blue whale takes the cake as the biggest whale in the world by a landslide. An average blue whale weighs in around 400,000 lbs. and can grow about 98 feet long. This is equivalent to 3 long school buses or one full airplane. The longest blue whale was recorded to have been 108 feet! Blue whales are incredibly diverse from a geographic perspective and can be found in waters all over the world including the North Atlantic, North Pacific, and certain parts of the Southern Hemisphere.
- Fin Whale – the fin whale is the second largest whale species in the world, characterized by its long and slender body that can grow up to an astonishing length of 90 feet long! Even though fin whales are almost as long as blue whales in length, their slender build makes them a lot lighter in mass. They can weigh between 120,000 to 144,000 lbs. Similar to the blue whale, the fin whale is geographically diverse and can be found anywhere from the Pacific to the Arctic and beyond.
- The Bowhead Whale – The bowhead whale is next up on the largest whale species list coming in at around 45-58 feet in length. They can weigh between 175,000-200,000 lbs. Unlike most other whale species that migrate to more temperate waters for a few seasons, the bowhead whale lives almost entirely in fertile Arctic and sub-Arctic waters. It has one of the thickest blubbers of any whale species, which allows it to withstand those arctic ocean temperatures. The bowhead whale is also unique in that it doesn’t have a dorsal fin, unlike many other cetaceans.
- The Right Whale – The right whale is a collection of three very similar baleen whale species including the Southern Right Whale, the North Atlantic Right Whales, and the North Pacific Right Whale. The right whales are the third-largest whales in the ocean averaging in at about 65 feet long and weighing between 250,000-300,000 lbs. Unfortunately, there are very few of the right whale species left. The North Atlantic and North Pacific right whales are some of the most endangered whales in the entire world, with only a couple dozen whales still in existence.
- Sperm Whale – next up in the lineup of largest whales is the sperm whale. Sperm whales are characterized by their large heads and long bodies that grow up between 50-55 feet long on average. This is equivalent to about 1.5 school buses in length. Sperm whales are the fourth largest whale species, weighing in around 80,000 lbs. This whale species actually has one of the largest brains of any animal known to have lived on earth. They have the remarkable capability to hold their breath for 90 minutes as they dive deep (3,000 feet!) in search for food.
- The Humpback Whale – the humpback whale is one of the most distinguished whale species set apart by its pointed head shape and extra-long fins or flippers. The humpback can grow up to 52 feet and weigh nearly 60,000 lbs. Humpbacks spend a lot of time at the surface of the ocean and are well known for breaching the surface of the ocean, making them incredibly entertaining to whale watchers. You can find humpback whales in all parts of the ocean, with the exception of polar regions.
- The Gray Whale – the gray whale is a very popular resident among the coastal waters of California, often seen on Long Beach whale watching tours and other areas. The gray whale is the next longest whale on the list, a medium-sized baleen whale averaging 49 feet in length and weighing an average of 72,000 lbs., though some can grow to be much heavier. Many healthy gray whales live between 50 and 70 years on average.