Mo Mammals Mo Plankton: The Blue Whale
In our regular blog feature, 'More Mammals More Plankton', we explore notable sea mammals, past, present and extinct. Today, we profile the Blue Whale.
The Blue Whale, Balaenoptera musculus, is the largest animal to have ever lived on Earth. The blue whale is a marine sea mammal belonging to the baleen whale parvorder Mysticeti. Blue Whales reach a maximum length of 29.9 metres (98 ft) and can weigh up to 200 tonnes!
Blue Whales survive by feeding on shoals of tiny plankton and krill, sieved through giant baleen plates in their jaws. Its stomach can hold one ton of krill, and it needs to eat about four tons of krill each day. Blue Whales are truly mammoth, its heart is nearly the size of a small family car, and it is one of the loudest animals on Earth, with the volume of their calls reaching levels up to 190 decibels (louder than a jet engine!)
Blue Whales live in pods, and were hunted by whalers until 1966, when the International Whaling Commission declared them to be a protected species. The Blue Whale population had dwindled to below 20,000, down from a pre-whaling populace of 350,000 estimated. They continue to be an endangered species.
Photo credit(s): MR1805 / Denis Scott / Getty Images (Pro Licence)