If you've ever been to the American Museum of Natural History, you've probably encountered the life-size blue whale replica in the Hall of Ocean Life. The replica is massive; you have to tilt your head back to get a good look at it. And it's hard to believe that these giant creatures are living in our oceans.
Blue whales are the largest animals to exist. And there's a lot you may not know about them. Here are some facts about blue whales you'll want to share with everyone you know—plus, a few ways you can keep them safe.
8 Fascinating Facts About Blue Whales
1. They're Bigger Than You Think
Blue whales can grow to be anywhere between 82 and 105 feet long, with the longest blue whale on record reaching about 110 feet. To give you a little context, that's about as long as three school buses!
Not only are these mammals incredibly long, but they also weigh up to 200 tons—the equivalent of 33 elephants. Plus, according to the American Museum of Natural History, blue whales may be bigger than some dinosaurs.
Even baby blue whales weigh more than you may expect. Newborn blue whales can weigh up to 6,000 pounds at birth, which is approximately what an adult hippopotamus weighs.
2. Their Hearts Are Also Huge
A massive mammal needs a massive heart. The heart of a blue whale can weigh almost 1,000 pounds, whereas a human heart is only about 10 ounces—less than a pound! It's said that blue whale hearts have vessels that are big enough for a baby to crawl through them.
3. They're Extremely Loud
Blue whales are known for communicating through loud moans and pulses. But shockingly, humans can't hear the whole song.
Blue whales are actually the loudest animals on the planet; their calls can reach about 188 decibels. That's louder than a jet engine! And any sound over 140 decibels can be painful for humans to hear.
4. They Have a Long Life-Span
Blue whales are one of the longest-lived animals to date, with a lifespan of about 80 to 90 years. Some of the oldest blue whales have even lived 110 years.
5. They Love Krill
Krill are tiny, shrimplike creatures that blue whales feed on. So much so that a single blue whale can eat about 4 tons of krill in a day.
They scoop up krill and approximately 100 tons of water at once, and then the water gets filtered out and the krill remains.
6. They Live All Over The Globe
Believe it or not, blue whales can be found in almost every ocean on the planet—with the exception of the Arctic. You may even see one next time you're out at sea. Blue whales are often spotted near Australia, the Maldives, Iceland, and even California.
7. They're Endangered
Yes, the beloved blue whale is one of the endangered animals we're trying to save. Currently, there are about 10,000 to 25,000 blue whales in our oceans. And while the blue whale population is slowly increasing, they're still threatened by habitat loss, human activity, and climate change.
Previously, blue whales were commonly hunted. And with an increase in the number of factory ships at sea, many blue whales are getting caught in fishing gear and ship strikes.
Blue whales are also impacted by ocean pollution. Specifically, chemical and plastic waste. Plastic pollution is at an all-time high in our oceans, with human populations creating a significant amount of waste.
About 240 wildlife species, including whales, have ingested plastic waste—resulting in harm or death—and plastic bags is one of the leading causes of death from debris for wildlife. Blue whales are also impacted by oil spills that contaminate the oceans and food sources.
8. Blue Whales Help Fight the Climate Crisis
Blue whales aren't just important to the marine life food chain. They're also vital in maintaining healthy marine ecosystems and fighting the climate crisis.
Blue whales actually fertilize marine ecosystems. A single whale, on average, can capture the same amount of carbon as 1,000 trees in its lifetime.
Additionally, blue whales fertilize microscopic phytoplankton through their defecation, and the phytoplankton captures carbon and produces over 50% of the world's oxygen. So basically, blue whales are fighting climate change. And they're essential to our planet!
How You Can Help Blue Whales
1. Adopt a Whale
Adopting a whale is one way to participate in whale and marine life conservation efforts. It supports global efforts to protect whales in their natural habitats, sometimes through the creation of sanctuaries. While your adoption may be symbolic, you'll receive a certificate for your adoption.
2. Host a Beach Clean-Up
If you live near the water, you can do your part in reducing the amount of waste in the ocean by hosting a clean-up. Gather your friends and family and spread the word.
Pick up litter, including plastic waste like single-use bottles and cans, and be sure to dispose of them correctly. Even the smallest efforts can lead to a decrease in the pollution we see in our oceans.
3. Keep Your Distance
You may love these beautiful blue creatures, but it's best to stay away from them. Boats and fishing gear can pose a threat to whales, especially if you're within close range. If you're on the water, be alert and stay away from whales in the wild.
4. Report Whales in Danger
If you encounter a wild blue whale, and the creature is injured, sick, displaced, or dead, report it. Professional responders and scientists will know how to respond, and again, be sure to keep a safe distance.
If you're not sure who to call when you see a whale—or any marine life—in danger, check the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's page for how to report injured marine life.
5. Be Mindful of the Waste You Produce
Decreasing the amount of waste you produce prevents waste from getting sent to landfills and helps keep our oceans clean. Substitute single-use plastics for reusable ones, such as reusable water bottles. And check out our guide for cutting back on plastic waste to see where you can make a change.