In nature, size is not an indication of temperament. The largest animals can be the gentlest of creatures and the reverse is also true. In this article, we take a look at one of nature's largest sea-dwelling members, the blue whale and where it resides in oceans around the world.
Blue Whale Habitat
The blue whale is an oceanic animal, preferring deep waters in the middle of the ocean to coastal waters. They reside in temperate and cold water regions. As such, they can be found in all large water bodies of the world, which include the Pacific Ocean, Antarctic Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. Unfortunately due to hunting and man's marine activities, these gentle giants have decreased in population and are rarely seen in some water bodies.
In the Northern Hemisphere of the world, they are seen in the northeast parts of the Pacific Ocean, from Alaska to Costa Rica. They can migrate towards the northwest region of the Pacific Ocean, towards Japan, but their sightings in this region are rare. Blue whales can also be found in the North Atlantic Ocean, in the waters near Greenland, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.
In the Southern Hemisphere, their presence is rare and their population is low. The Antarctic Ocean was the location for a large number of blue whales. But after whale hunting started in the 1960s, their numbers dwindled heavily. Small populations reside mainly in the Antarctic Ocean and in some parts of the Indian Ocean. They are rarely, if ever, seen in the Bering Sea or the Gulf of Alaska.
Their occurrence in particular locations can depend on season. These whales feed heavily during the summer in polar waters, and can be found near the Channel Islands, Monterrey Bay, and the Farallon Islands. As winter approaches, they will travel a great distance towards warmer temperatures, by moving towards regions near the Equator, such as along Mexico and Costa Rica.
Fact File of the Blue Whale
|Scientific name||Balaenoptera musculus||Suborder||Mysticeti|
|Length||Between 82 to 105 feet||Weight||Up to 200 tons|
|Color||Spotted bluish-gray with yellowish underbelly||Speed||5 miles an hour|
|Life span||Between 80-90 years||Estimated population||5000-12000 (2002 survey)|
Interesting Tidbits about the Blue Whale
- This whale has many laurels based on its size. It is the largest mammal on Earth, the largest animal to have ever lived and still live on Earth and some of its body parts are truly ginormous. Its heart is as big as a car and its tongue alone weighs 2.7 tons, equivalent to a full-grown elephant!
- The blue whale has no teeth. Rather, its mouth is fitted with large plates called baleen. It feeds by filtering krill (tiny marine invertebrates) from ocean water, by passing water through these plates. This feeding mechanism allows the whale to eat as it moves. On an average, they will consume 4-8 tons of krill a day.
- Even the biggest animal in the ocean has an enemy and that is Man. With harpoon guns and fast ships, humans have seriously depleted their population in the ocean.
- Orcas or killer whales are the only animals that will attack blue whales. They rarely target adults but instead, form groups and try to harm calves and juvenile blue whales.
- Aside from being the largest animals, they are also the loudest. They talk to each other using whistles, moans and groans at 188 decibels, a sound range louder than a jet plane! Their vocalizations can be heard at a distance of 1000 miles away from the whale.