Blue Whale

Marine Creature:  Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus)

Kindly compiled by Planet Whale

General Description

The biggest animals to have EVER existed on the planet!

Blue Whales are usually found singly or in pairs, although larger aggregations are found where there is a rich source of food. They are so massive that breaching (jumping out of the water) is rare. Immature animals probably breach most regularly, and adults do not usually complete a full body breach. They feed almost exclusively on krill and are occasionally observed lunge feeding at the surface.

© Ian Rowlands at Planet Whale

© Ian Rowlands at Planet Whale

Distribution

Blue Whales are found in all the world’s oceans and occur in continental shelf waters and in deep waters further offshore. They favour cold temperate waters in the summer and are thought to migrate to tropical and warm temperate waters in the winter where breeding occurs.

The distribution of the blue whales ranges from the tropics to the polar waters of both the Arctic and Antarctica. In the North Atlantic, the population is severely depleted due to whaling exploitation and numbers in the eastern North Atlantic remain very small. Notable summer concentrations occur off Iceland and the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Interesting Facts

An adult blue whale can eat up to 4 ton of krill a day – an adult human eats about a ton of food in a year! Newborn blue whales already measure at least 6m in length and weigh up to 4 tons.

  • Lifespan: Up to 90 years
  • Food: They feed almost exclusively on krill.
  • Size: Females can reach larger sizes than the males, as is the case with all baleen whales, up to 33m in length and weighing up to 180 tons. This is about the length of a basketball court!

That’s a big big whale!!

© Ian Rowlands at Planet Whale

© Ian Rowlands at Planet Whale

Feeding & Hunting

They feed almost exclusively on krill and are occasionally observed lunge feeding at the surface. The distribution of blue whales during the summer feeding season is largely determined by the abundance of their exclusive prey – krill. Krill concentrations of sufficient mass to support feeding blue whales generally occur where deep, nutrient rich currents are pushed to the surface, providing for a productive planktonic food chain.

Threats

Noise pollution is a big threat, these blue whales need to communicate over enormous distances and current noise levels in the world’s oceans are thought to disrupt this. There is some risk of ship strike and entanglement.

Conservation Status & International Protection

IUCN categorisation is “endangered” – the global blue whale population is understood to have declined between 70% and 90% over the last three generations due to modern whaling, with protection finally being brought in in 1966.

© Ian Rowlands at Planet Whale

© Ian Rowlands at Planet Whale

Best places in the world to see these creatures:

Sri Lanka and off California in summer.

For many more check out www.planetwhale.com

Click on the link for ethical reviews and rating system for whale watching trips to see Blue Whales

Organisation Profile:  Planet Whale

 

planet whaleDescription/Background of work

At the heart of Planet Whale is a belief that an encounter with a wild whale or dolphin reconnects us with the natural world in an amazing and powerful way. For one humbling moment we can be moved to tears or celebrating wildly as we stare through the thin veil of water that separates us from these magnificent animals.

Planet Whale understands that we all need such encounters to reawaken our sense of responsibility to the natural world; energising ourselves to act for the greater good. That is our first step – only when we have been inspired will we feel compelled to act. For this reason we promote responsible whale watching and have the largest online searchable database of whale and dolphin watch operators in the world – the public can review trips they’ve been on with regard to their sustainability, educational value and impact on the marine environment, amongst other things. It is this global community that will change the way we view whales and dolphins forever. By harnessing the passion and ideas of individuals, we will achieve more to protect and defend our oceans than ever before.

Together we will: 
  • Give the people control so they can use it to help whales and dolphins.
  • Inspire change through a new global partnership.
  •  Make whale watching more sustainable – and successful – than ever before!
  •  Reach out to the world with colossal festivals for whales and dolphins.
  • Create innovative campaigns that harness the power of the web’s global community.

Volunteer/Paid Work Opportunities

We are always looking for passionate and hard-working volunteers to help achieve our Planet Whale mission. In particular we welcome applications for the upcoming Whalefest. You don’t need to be a whale expert but a lot of enthusiasm for marine conservation and a fun attitude are essential. We’re based in Brighton and Hove (UK) but our volunteer network stretches across the globe, so feel free to get in touch wherever you are! Contact us at info@planetwhale.com.

whale festival

Return to Baleen Whales or learn more about the Humpback Whale