Blue whale

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Balaenoptera musculus

Blue whales are the largest animals in the world.  They can easily be detected from great a distance because the strong vertical blow reaches up to 12 m in height (lung capacity is about 5,000 liters). The heart alone is the size of a small car, and the tongue can weigh up to 4 tonnes. Under bright light this species can appear blueish, but usually they appear more grey which can cause them to be mistaken with other baleen whales. The main distinguishing features are the relatively small dorsal fin, the broad U-shaped head, and the mottled skin. Blue whales feed almost exclusively on krill in polar waters during summer months. In general, in winter they go to warmer waters to breed and give birth. In the Azores, blue whales are mostly seen in the spring, during their annual migration. They are usually seen alone or in pairs and we have seen them feeding on krill as they pass. The blue whales that pass the Azores spend the summer months feeding around Iceland and Norway and it is not yet known where they spend the winter months.

Length:

  • Male: 29 m

  • Female: 33 m

  • Calf: 7-8 m

Weight:

  • Female: 180,000 kg

  • Calf: 2,700 kg

 

Global population: c.10,000 – 25,000 (population trend increasing)
Status: Endangered
Diet: Various species of krill
Baleen: 270 – 400 pairs (black), up to 1 m long and 55 cm wide
Longevity: 60  - 80 years
Breeding age: Unknown
Gestation: 10 – 12 months
Nursing: 6 – 7 month (380 – 570 liters per day)

In other languages

Portuguese: Baleia-azul
Spanish: Ballena azul
French: Baleine bleue
Italian: Balenottera azzurra
German: Blauwal
Dutch: Blauwe vinvis
Swedish: Blåval
Norwegian: Blåhval
Danish: Blåhval
Finnish: Sinivalas
Polish: -
Russian: Blyuval