The Blue Whale

Their sheer size qualifies this mammal as the the largest whale species– and of course, the largest mammal – that has ever lived.  Why are blue whales endangered? What do blue whales eat?  What is the typical blue whale habitat? Where do blue whales live?  How much does a blue whale weigh? How long is a blue whale? 


Here you can learn blue whale facts. Including learning how long blue whales live, blue whale length, blue whale weight, blue whale habitat, blue whale images, and blue whale videos.  

Blue Whale Size:  How big is a Blue Whale? What is the typical Blue Whale length?   

Not just the biggest whale, it’s also believed to be the biggest animal that has ever lived on our planet. Blues have tongues that weigh as much as elephants! They are as long as a 10 story-building is tall. They have hearts the size of small cars.  Even a calf is enormous, and gains approximately 200 pounds per day during its first year of life! 

Blue Whales are not all exactly the same and there are some differences in their subspecies. If you are interested in seeing the biggest sub-species of all Blues – come visit Antarctica!  Antarctic Blue Whales are the biggest subspecies of the biggest animal ever to live on Earth.  An Antarctic cruise is probably your best chance of ever getting to see one of these enormous and majestic creatures. 

How long is a Blue Whale?   

Females are longer than males. The longest female ever officially measured was 98 feet long (29.9 meters) and found in the 1937-1938 season and verified on the factory ship Ulysses in Antarctica. 

Discovered by Japanese scientists in the 1947-1948 whaling season, the longest male ever found measured 88 feet long (26.8 meters). However, it is believed that these whales can reach up to 100 feet long. One scientific study concerning these whales used a hypothetical Blue Whale that was 108 feet long. The study showed that a whale of this size could not survive due to metabolic and energy constraints. 

Some people allege having measured whales as long as 110 feet long. A calf of this species averages around 23 feet long (7 meters).  The longest calves have been measured at 25 feet long.

How much does a Blue Whale weigh? 

Males generally have more muscle mass and therefore are sometimes heavier than females. The largest recorded whale was a female found weighing in at 190 tons (173 tonnes)! Blues found in Antarctic waters have proven to be the largest specimens recorded. Adult weights typically vary from 50-150 tons (45-136 tonnes). 

Due to the tremendous size of these whales, one has never been weighed in one piece! All recorded weights came from cutting up deceased whales into 1.5-2 ft. pieces. Then, weighing and adding up all the measurements. It’s estimated that approximately 6% of the body mass is found in lost blood and body fluids so these methods may not be completely accurate. It’s estimated that an adult Blue Whale’s blood alone weighs as much as a full-grown elephant. 

How long do Blue Whales live? 

Among the longest-living animals on the planet, Blues can live up to 110 years. Most live within the range of 80-90 years. Scientists have used a strange method of counting layers of wax found in Blue Whale’s ears to determine age and this is how we know the age of any whale. 

What do Blue Whales eat? 

Blue Whales do not have teeth. They filter ocean water through their baleen plates. Baleen can be thought of like a giant filter that is similar to a brush. Blues approach schools of krill, small shrimp-like crustaceans, and they will open their giant mouths wide enough to capture everything they can when approaching a school of krill. They use their giant tongues (weighing as much as an elephant) to push the water out of their closed mouths. The baleen lets the water escape but traps everything else. Most krill are only 1-2 cm in length (about half an inch to 1 inch), but some can be as big as 8-9 cm (3.5-4 in.). Sometimes Blues unintentionally consume other fish, squid, or other crustaceans who happen to be in proximity to the krill. 

Many people on the internet wonder if Blues can eat people. Although it’s hypothetically possible due to the enormous volume of food and liquid a Blue Whales can ingest, there are no recorded incidents where this has ever occurred. Furthermore, Blue Whales only intentionally target krill so it’s very unlikely that one would ever pose any risk to a human. 

Krill love nutrient-rich cold waters near the north and south poles more than any other place on Earth. The colder waters of the Southern Hemisphere, therefore, contain the largest populations of Blue Whales, especially near Antarctica.  

The largest sub-species of Blue Whale lives in these Antarctic waters and will consume up to 8,000 pounds of food per day. This is estimated to be around 40 million krill. 

A baby whale is called a calf. A calf doesn’t eat krill for the first 6-18 months of life. Instead, a calf will consume up to 150 gallons of milk from its mother per day.  

Why are Blue Whales endangered? 

The World Wildlife Foundation estimates that between 1904 and 1967 at least 350,000 Blue Whales were killed in the Southern Hemisphere alone! As an example of how widespread this was, 29,000 Blue Whales were killed during just the 1931 whaling season.  Blue Whales became endangered primarily because of human hunting and whaling activities. What did people want from these whales? Whale oil was often a cheap option for lighting lamps during this period of history. In 1967 Blue Whales finally received worldwide protective status and since then their numbers have slowly begun to recover. It’s currently estimated that only 10,000-25,000 Blue Whales remain worldwide and the biggest threat they now face is due to global climate change and how it is impacting food sources and the oceanic habitats that Blue Whales depend on for survival. 

Blue Whale habitat:  Where do Blue Whales live? 

Blue Whales tend to prefer deeper oceanic waters so they are rarely found near coastlines. Blue Whales have three subspecies which vary somewhat in size. They live in cold and temperate waters. Pygmy Blue Whales live in the Indian Ocean. The medium-sized sub-species called B. m. musculus lives in the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans. The biggest Blue Whale subspecies called B. m. intermedia lives in the Southern Ocean and therefore an Antarctic cruise might be the best chance a person has of ever seeing the largest animal that’s ever existed on our planet. 

During winter months, Blue Whales migrate to warmer equatorial and tropical ocean waters. 

Blue Whales and Antarctica: 

Blue and Minke Whales have been seen near 78° South in the Ross Sea. It’s believed that the current southern hemisphere Blue Whale population is approximately 2,000-2,200 individuals. It’s estimated that the pre-whaling population of these whales was between 202,000 and 311,000.

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