Blue Whales - Balaenoptera musculus
The magnificent Blue whale is the largest animal on our planet, ever. The longest recorded length for a Blue whale is over 110 feet and they are sought after by whale watching groups around the world. They can weigh well over 100 tons and are a highly endangered species.|
Blue whales have a long, somewhat tapered and streamlined body, with the head making up less than one-fourth of its total body length. The rostrum (upper part of the head) is very broad and flat and almost U-shaped, with a single ridge that extends just forward of the blowhole to the tip of the snout. The body is smooth and relatively free of parasites, although a few barnacles may attach to the edge of the tail fluke, the tips of the flippers and to the small, triangular dorsal fin. There is a row of a few hundred black baleen plates on each side of the mouth, and almost 100 throat grooves extend to the navel, which allows the throat to expand enormously during feeding.
Despite its common name, the Blue whale is actually grayish-blue, with a mottled effect that is visible in some lights and can allow individuals to be identified. The underside often has a yellowish tinge, especially on whales living in polar waters, which is caused by microscopic algae called ‘diatoms’ and led to early whalers giving this species the nickname ‘sulphur bottom whale.’
Visit the Humpback Whale and Killer Whale pages to see photos of these great whales as well.
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Blue Whale with calf, cruising off the Santa Barbara Channel, California|