Marine Mammal Spotlight - Blue Whale
Kaikōura plays host to not only the largest of the toothed whales – the sperm whales all year round but we also play host too many other species of whales and dolphins as they migrate past our coastline one of which is the mighty blue whale.
The blue whale is the largest animal known to have ever lived on Earth and is the largest mammal in the world. These massive creatures are ginormous from the moment they are born and continue to add to their girth throughout their first year. A blue whale calf weighs two tons at birth and gains an extra 200 pounds each day of its first year.
Blue whales are able to breathe air, but they are very comfortable in the ocean waters where buoyancy helps to support their incredible bulk. They can move along at great speeds in short bursts which can make them hard to watch at times. Here is a short video of one of those beautiful creatures that one of our crew managed to capture. Blue Whale passing through Kaikoura.
These mammals are found in all the world's oceans and often swim in small groups or alone. They usually spend summers feeding in the polar regions.
These giant creatures feed on tiny shrimp-like animals called krill. Blue whales are baleen whales and feed through a comb-like filter of some 400 plates equipped with bristles to capture tiny morsels of food as the whale swims. When in full feeding mode these whales can eat up to 3-4 tonne of krill in one day.
Blue whales are the loudest animals on Earth! Their call reaches levels up to 188 decibels. This low-frequency whistle can be heard for hundreds of miles. The blue whale is louder than a jet, which reaches only 140 decibels! Human shouting is 70 decibels; sounds over 120 decibels are painful to human ears.
Only a few thousand blue whales are believed to swim the world's oceans. They were hunted for many years for their blubber and oil, and they were almost hunted to extinction. In the 1930-31 season alone, whalers killed almost 30,000 blue whales.
They were protected under the 1966 International Whaling Convention and are now considered to be an endangered species.
- Their average lifespan in the wild is 80-90 years.
- Blue whales are usually between 82 and 105 feet (25 to 32 meters) long.
- Blue whales are baleen whales.
- Their skin has a bluish-gray color which is how they inherited their name.
- They can weigh about 200 tons (181,437 kilograms).
- Females are larger than males (which goes for all baleen whale species).
- The blue whale's heart weighs as much as a small car.
- Its tongue can weigh two to three tons.
- When a blue whale exhales, the spray from its blowhole can reach nearly 30 feet (9 meters) into the air.