The blue whale is the largest animal ever to have lived on earth – even bigger than the biggest dinosaurs! This article contains lots of amazing information about blue whales, including a list of blue whale facts for kids. Let’s find out more about these giant sea animals…
(This article is part of our Endangered Animals series.)
Picture A Blue Whale
Imagine that you’re sailing the ocean. You’re far out at sea when you look over the side of the boat and see the huge shadow of a creature below the water!
Feeling a little nervous, you take a closer look. What could it be? You see a long grey body, much bigger than the boat you’re on. Its gigantic, slim shape looks a little bit like a submarine as it navigates the water below you.
Are you in danger? No, don’t worry – it’s a blue whale. These sea mammals are gentle giants and aren’t a threat to humans. The whale is just looking for krill to eat.
Interesting Information about blue whales
The blue whale is a marine mammal. Its scientific name is Balaenoptera Musculus. Like all mammals, blue whales are warm-blooded, breathe air and even have some hair on their bodies!
Blue Whale Weight
Blue whales are known for their extremely large size – an average male weighs a huge 190,000 kgs (190 tonnes). Despite their huge size, blue whales have long and slender bodies like a submarine. This streamline shape lets them travel quickly and for long distances. A blue whale can swim up to 25 miles an hour when it needs to.
Is a blue whale really blue?
Blue whales are actually closer to a grey colour with a lighter belly. Under the ocean though, the colour of the water and sunlight make them appear a dark shade of blue, which is where they get their name from.
How Long is a blue whale?
An adult blue whale measures up to 100 feet (30 metres) long. Can you imagine how long that is? About the length of 3 double decker buses! That’s quite long! Blue whale hearts weigh as much a car and their tongues as much as a whole elephant!
Why are blue whales so big?
Scientists don’t really know why blue whales are so humongous. It could be because they have so much space to roam in the ocean allowing them to grow – over 70% of the earth is covered in water. Another reason could be because the weightlessness of the water supports their bodies and lets them maintain such big proportions.
What do blue whales eat?
The blue whale is the biggest animal in the world, but strangely, it survives by eating very small creatures! These tiny animals are called krill, which look like very small shrimp and are around 1-2cm long. An adult whale can eat up to 40 million krill a day or around 8,000 lbs. Blue whales can only eat small prey because they have a very narrow oesophagus (throat).
Watch a video of a blue whale below:
How do blue whales hunt?
Blue whales catch their food by a method called filter feeding. Instead of teeth, blue whales have bristles called baleen, which look a little bit like a comb and catch food like a net. To feed, a blue whale just opens its mouth and swims towards a large group of krill. It catches as many as possible and then pushes out the water whilst the krill are trapped inside the bristles. Then it swallows the krill whole.
Where do blue whales live?
Blue whales live in all oceans of the world including the Antarctic Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. However, they tend to migrate to different areas at different times of the year.
Most of the year, they are found in deep waters near the Arctic and Antarctic regions, where there is a large amount of krill. Then in mating season, they travel to warmer climates closer to the Equator such as the Gulf of Mexico and Costa Rica, to give birth in warm waters.
Do blue whales live alone or in groups?
Blue whales are solitary mammals. This means that they usually live and travel alone or sometimes in small groups.
How do blue whales communicate?
Blue whales talk to each other using loud, low pitched whines and moans. They are actually the loudest animal on earth and their sounds can reach 188 decibels. Are you wondering how loud that is? Well it’s much louder than a jet plane, which reaches only 140 decibels! A blue whale’s call can be heard many miles away and deep below the ocean’s surface.
Are blue whales endangered?
Between the 17th and 20th centuries, humans hunted whales for oil which could be made into products. This was known as whaling and nearly left the blue whale extinct. Before the whaling era there were around 200,000 – 300,000 whales but after, there were just 5,000 – 12,000.
Luckily, whaling is now illegal, but blue whales are still endangered and are now a protected animal.
10 amazing blue whale facts for kids
- The spray from a blue whales blowhole can reach up to 3 metres!
- Blue whales are the fastest growing animal on earth.
- Blue whales can live up to 90 years old in the wild.
- Because they are so huge, blue whales don’t have any natural predators.
- A blue whale can hold its breath for 30 minutes when searching for food.
- Blue whales are a type of baleen whale, which means they have bristles in their mouth instead of teeth.
- A whale calf drinks 50 gallons of milk and gains 90 kilograms a day in its first year.
- A blue whale’s veins are so wide, a human could swim through them!
- Female whales only give birth to one whale at a time, every 2-3 years.
- Blue whales have a very small dorsal fin and short flippers compared to the rest of their bodies.
Fun whale activities
We hope you’ve enjoyed our facts about these giants of the ocean. Now that you know more about blue whales, try out some of these fun activities:
- Imagine you’re on a whale watching expedition. Write about your day on the ocean. Where did you travel to find whales? Did you spot any below the sea? What did they look like? Use the facts in the article to help you.
- Help the endangered blue whale by adopting one. Whilst you won’t be able to take one home with you (it would be too large after all!) when you adopt a blue whale you will receive a certificate of adoption and some more information on this amazing mammal. Here are two whale charities that allow you to adopt a whale: Save The Wales (US-based), WDC (Whale And Dolphin Conservation), (UK-based)
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You can find out more about endangered animals on this page: Endangered Animals List with Pictures & Facts