Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Blue Whales - The Largest Animal That Ever Lived

By Terry Hunefeld
Blue Whales are magnificent creatures. One of the very best places to view them is on a boat from Southern California. Whale watching trips go out regularly from San Diego, Los Angeles, Oxnard, Ventura and Santa Barbara.

Blue Whales are the biggest animals that have ever lived on the face of the earth " far bigger than the largest dinosaurs. They have been weighed up to 180 tons which is 20,000 pounds heavier than a DC-10. The largest elephants only weigh a bit over five tons. Blue Whales have been measured by scientists up to 100 feet long, although today the largest average around 75 - 80 feet. They have been measured at more than 110 feet - compare that to the longest dinosaur skeleton of less than 90 feet from tail to nose.

There are many myths about these creatures, one is that the heartbeat can be heard for 20 miles which is ridiculous because nobody can even hear a Blue Whale heartbeat from ten feet away.

Interestingly, one of the smallest seabirds on earth, Cassins Auklet, and the Blue Whale, the largest animal ever to have lived on earth, both subsist primarily on the same prey: krill. Blue Whales are baleen whales. Instead of teeth, they have a series of flexible plates called baleen that they use to strain up to four tons of these tiny shrimp like crustaceans from the ocean each day.

Blue Whales have been known to interbreed occasionally with the second largest animal on earth, the Fin Whale. Four of these hybrids have been scientifically documented by DNA analysis.

Blue Whales are often found alone or with one other Blue Whale. We do not know for sure how long Blue Whale pairs might stay together because it is so difficult to track them as they cross entire oceans. Blue Whales can rarely be found in groups 45 whales if there is a lot of food (krill) in the area - however this is very rare because they do not usually form large pods like some other species of whales.

Blue Whales are fast, strong swimmers with an average speed of about 12 miles per hour with an ability when alarmed to move at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour.

Blue Whales are known to inhabit oceans all over the world. They are especially attracted to Pacific Ocean waters off California and Mexico which can host up to 30% of the worlds entire population during the warmer spring and summer months due to the excellent supply of food.

Blue Whales can be found in every ocean on earth, but experts still don't know where they breed or give birth. They are known to frequent feeding grounds in tropical, moderate and cold polar oceans, and it is suspected that they give birth in warmer climates.

Blue Whales once numbered in the hundreds of thousands until man developed the technology (like exploding harpoons) to exploit these magnificent creatures in the early twentieth century. For nearly 40 years they were hunted almost to extinction by whalers who destroyed 99 percent of all Blue Whales on earth. They became protected in 1966 when on the brink of extinction. Its estimated that there are only 5,000 to 10,000 Blue Whales left worldwide today.
About the Author:
Terry Hunefeld retired from a CEO career in 2007 to pursue his passion of going to sea to observe birds and marine mammals. He and his wife Ann own the beautiful Inn at Moonlight Beach on the Pacific Ocean of San Diego. If you are looking for a Del Mar Bed and Breakfast or a Carlsbad Bed and Breakfast, be sure to check out Inn at Moonlight Beach.


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