DID YOU KNOW?
A Blue Whale’s tongue weighs as much as an African Elephant!
The Blue whale is the largest mammal to have ever lived on earth (if you were to swim next to one in the ocean, it would be two to three school buses long). Found across all of earth’s oceans, the blue whale is an apex predator of the marine world. Other than humans, orcas are the only other species who are known to attack blue whales, and they are a threat to their calves (the baby whales). Blue whales in the southern hemisphere are believed to reach lengths longer than the average blue whale in the north.
Similar to the humpback whale, the blue whale also has a call of its own that can be heard not only miles away (100 miles!) but also miles above at the ocean surface, leading it to have one of the most powerful voices in the animal kingdom.
Strange but true, the largest animal on the planet survives by eating one the smallest: krill. Blue whales don’t have teeth, but rather graze with their baleen plates taking in large gulps of these tiny fish and using their tongue to push out the water so they are left with a mouth full of food. When feeding, they need to eat 4 times a day. Although we know very little about their mating process, they often travel alone or in pods of 2-3 members just like the humpback whales. Out at sea, most people don’t get to interact with them because they have been observed to be more wary of boats and less social than the humpbacks.
THE LONELIEST WHALE
In 1989 the US Navy detected an unusually unique whale song among its recordings. They found that the frequency was 52 Hertz- much higher than a blue whale’s normal song frequency which is 10-40 Hz. Many believe it was a blue whale, despite the unmatched frequency, and have labelled it as the world’s loneliest whale. Even today no one knows for sure if it’s a male or a female. Questions remain: Why does he or she sing at that frequency? Are they calling out for a mate? Or are they looking for something they lost?
Read more about it here.
The species is currently listed as endangered.
DID YOU KNOW?
A Blue whale’s heart weighs as much a car!
Major threats to the blue whale include boat collisions, net entanglements, habitat degradation from oil spills and ocean noise pollution. Boat collisions have known to cause death and leave permanent scarring on these whales. This problem is more dangerous in areas where there is heavy shipping traffic. Net entanglements are another serious threat- if they remain entangled for too long it can cause tissue damage, and even death, along with stress that can affect their reproductive abilities.
In the early 1900s, commercial whaling was the main threat to the blue whales. While the whaling ban has helped tackle the problem of whaling, illegal whaling is still known to occur and they are still struggling to recover.
Blue whales feeding on krill, National Geogrpahic
OUR ALLY FOR PROTECTING THE BLUE WHALE
American Cetacean Society
The American Cetacean Society (ACS) was founded in 1967, and is recognized as the first whale, dolphin, and porpoise conservation group in the world. They help protect these marine animals and their habitats through public education, research grants, and conservation actions. With their Whale Watch Naturalists Program (run by their Los Angeles chapter), they train and prepare whale enthusiasts to serve as volunteer naturalists aboard whale watching cruises from January through March to educate the public about the whales, dolphins, and other marine wildlife that occupy the waters off the coast of southern California.
HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED IN PROTECTING THE BLUE WHALE
Our allies at American Cetacean Society have suggested these actions that can help save the Blue whales:
Support legislative action to change shipping lanes, and/or reduce speed for ships in areas where blue whales are known to congregate.
Buy local as much as possible.
Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Saving resources to help the marine environment.
Make informed decisions when it comes to eating seafood. Choose safe and sustainably harvested seafood- seafoodwatch.org
Increase your knowledge about the plight of blue whales (http://www.acsonline.org/blue-whale)
Share with others what you have learned!