Blue Whale

Page - January 15, 2009

Estimated Population: 1,300-2,000 , endangered

Ways to identify this species:
baleen whale, grayish blue skin with white spots, small dorsal fin set farther back

Biology

Migratory, blue whales spend winters in temperate and subtropical areas and travel to polar regions for summer. They usually travel alone or ingroups of 2-4.

As the largest animal ever known to have lived on earth, they average 23-24.5m in length and can weigh up to 136,000kg. Females are larger than males.

They can move at speeds of up to 30 mph and dive as deep as 500m, lasting ten to twenty minutes underwater.

Blue whales use baleen plates to strain food, usually krill, from the water.

Threats

Considered extremely valuable due to their large size, blue whales were extensively hunted by commercial whalers. The advent of industrial whaling using faster boats and harpoon guns allowed for increased hunting on blue whales and by the 1960s the species was nearly extinct.

Despite decades of protection, blue whale populations have yet to recover from the impacts of commercial whaling. They now face new threats such as pollution and entanglement in fishing gear in addition to climate change.

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