BLUE WHALE
Balaenoptera musculus

Habitat: Blue whales typically are found in the open ocean.

Average adult size: Adults can grow to be 100 feet long.

Natural history: Whales are separated into two groups, the baleen whales and the toothed whales. The blue whale is a baleen whale. Baleen are rows of coarse, bristle-like fibers used to strain plankton from the water. Baleen is made of keratin, the same material as our fingernails. Blue whales engulf huge clouds of shrimp-like krill, squeeze out the water and swallow the krill. They grow to be huge, feeding on some of the ocean's smallest creatures. The blue whale is the largest animal ever to have lived on earth, including the largest dinosaurs. Females can grow to be 100 feet long and weigh 130 tons. The blue whale heart is the size of a small car and can pump almost 10 tons of blood throughout the body. Blues feed in the polar seas during the warmer months and migrate to warmer seas in winter to breed and give birth to calves. Females are pregnant for 12 months and give birth to a calf that may weigh three tons and be 25 feet long. A calf may drink 50 gallons of mother's milk and gain 200 pounds a day.

Range: In all oceans of the world.


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