Blue Whale

Balaenoptera musculus

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Habitat

Blue whales can be found in every ocean such as the Arctic Sea, Atlantic Ocean (Antarctic, eastern central, northeast, northwest, southeast, southwest, western central), Indian Ocean (Antarctic, eastern, western), and Pacific Ocean (Antarctic, eastern central, northeast, northwest, southeast, southwest, western central). Approximately 2,000 blue whales live off the coast of California as they migrate to Mexico and Costa Rica during the winter. They remain in deep, cold waters to feed. Blue whales prefer open ocean, but can sometimes be seen offshore (World Wide Funds for Nature [WWF], 2015).

Physical Characteristics

The blue whale is the largest animal to ever live on Earth. The adults range from 80-100 feet in length, and weigh close to 200 tons. Underwater, they appear to be extremely blue, but they are actually blue-grey on top and light grey or yellowish underneath due to the accumulation of diatoms in colder water. It has a broad, flat head with a long body. A newborn whale is born already weighing 3 tons and stretching 25 feet. It gains 200 pounds every day for its first year. The lifespan of a whale is around 80 to 90 years (National Geographic, 2015).
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Reproduction

Whales are mammals, so they reproduce just like humans. The National Wildlife Federation (2015) reports that breeding occurs during the winter months in warm waters near the equator. Females remain pregnant for one year. In the meantime, they migrate to the poles to feed. Once it is time to give birth, they return to the poles where the newborn calves are born. They reach sexual maturity 10 years old.

Role in the food chain

Like most other whales, the blue whale primarily feeds on krill. According to National Geographic (2015), they consume approximately 4 tons of krill per day. Blue whales are considered baleen whales due to the fringed plates attached to their upper jaws.They are not known to have any predators due to their large size, but there have been rare reports of killer whales and sharks attacking a blue whale. Also, they get injured by making impacts with large ships
Dory Speaks Whale!!

Special abilities/needs

Blue whales are not only the largest animals on Earth, but they are also the loudest.Their calls reach 188 decibels, and the low frequency can be heard for hundreds of miles. This can ultimately attract other whales (National Geographic, 2015).

Significances

In general, whales play a significant role in economic growth through tourism. Many people will travel great distances to see a blue whale. The IUCN status is endangered. There used to be an issue with blue whales being hunted, but the population is rising now that they are protected (National Wildlife Federation, 2015).

Works Cited

Blue Whales, Blue Whale Pictures, Blue Whale Facts - National Geographic. (2015, January 1). Retrieved April 19, 2015, from http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/blue-whale/

Blue Whale - National Wildlife Federation. (2015, January 1). Retrieved April 20, 2015, from http://www.nwf.org/wildlife/wildlife-library/mammals/blue-whale.aspx

Blue whale. (2015, January 1). Retrieved April 19, 2015, from http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/endangered_species/cetaceans/about/blue_whale/