Blue whale

He is heavy. But this brother is in danger!

NOAA Photo Library – anim1754

The blue whale, renowned as the largest creature to ever inhabit the Earth, commands awe and respect with its colossal size and majestic presence in the oceans. Measuring over 33 meters (108 feet) in length and weighing up to 200 tonnes, these gentle giants epitomize the grandeur of marine life. Their distinctive features include a long, streamlined body, a broad head adorned with twin blowholes, and a mottled blue or gray back contrasting with a lighter underbelly, making them easily recognizable even from a distance.

Despite their immense size, blue whales are not immune to the perils of human-induced threats, which have taken a toll on their populations in recent history. Hunted almost to the brink of extinction mere decades ago, these magnificent creatures are now the focus of concerted conservation efforts aimed at safeguarding their dwindling numbers and restoring their populations to healthy levels.

Blue whales exhibit fascinating behavioral patterns and migratory habits that are essential to their survival. During the summer months, they congregate in polar regions where food is abundant, feasting on swarms of tiny krill using their massive baleen filters to sieve through mouthfuls of water. In the winter, they embark on epic migrations to warmer tropical waters to breed and give birth to their young, demonstrating remarkable navigational abilities and adaptability to diverse environments.

One of the most pressing challenges facing blue whales today is the threat posed by maritime activities, particularly ship strikes and noise pollution from shipping traffic. Conservation groups have highlighted the need to reroute shipping lanes to mitigate the risk of collisions with these vulnerable marine giants. For example, in the waters off Sri Lanka’s southern tip, where a crucial shipping channel intersects with blue whale habitat, a minor deviation in shipping routes could significantly reduce the risk of ship strikes and help protect the endangered whale population.


Population est.
Antarctic ocean
Atlantic Ocean
Indian ocean
Pacific ocean

Recent updates

March 2023: The government of Chile announced plans to establish a new marine protected area in the waters off the coast of Patagonia, which will provide important habitat for blue whales as well as other marine wildlife.

Jan 2023: A new study published in the journal Marine Policy found that shipping noise is a major threat to blue whales in the waters off the coast of California, where large numbers of ships pass through each year.

2022: A new study reveals blue whales consume around 10 million microplastic pieces daily.

Sep 2022: MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company has altered the paths of its vessels in response to International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) suggestions, thus safeguarding blue whales along the coast of Sri Lanka.

Feb 2022: The government of Canada announced plans to invest $17 million in new measures to protect and conserve blue whales in the country’s waters, including reducing ship strikes and improving prey availability.

Did you know?

  • They are twice the size of the biggest dinosaur, a Volkswagen Beetle-sized heart. Even their babies are seven meters long and weigh the same as an adult African elephant.
  • They are the loudest animals on the planet; their calls reach 188 dB, even louder than a jet engine that hits 140 dB.
  • These whales consume a relatively limited diet and will go without food for up to 4 months during migration, living off the stored fat collected during feeding season.
  • Water provides buoyancy, allowing them to grow enormously large, with no strong skeletal framework or muscular limbs.
  • Blue whales were once abundant throughout the Gulf of Alaska, but none have been spotted there in post-whaling era studies.
  • Conservation groups have urged for one of the world’s busiest shipping routes to be rerouted to safeguard an endangered blue whale colony. Increased shipping traffic around Sri Lanka’s southern tip endangers the world’s largest animal. The Wales habitat overlaps a key shipping channel connecting East Asia to the Swiss Canal. This exposes the colony to ship strikes and noise pollution. Marine researchers now believe that a minor change in the shipping lane could have a significant impact on the conservation of the blue whale colony. A 15 nautical mile southward deviation from the current route reduces collision risk by 95%.
  • The age of a whale can be estimated via wax-like earplugs, just as growth rings in trees. 8. Approximately 360,000 blue whales were killed between 1900 and to mid-1960s.

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Get to know me

Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No