Last week while in Iceland I went on a whale watch with some of our lovely friends from the University of Iceland. We saw a blue whale, the largest animal ever known to have existed on earth. Then we saw a fin whale, the second largest animal on earth. The whales were so close to the boat we could hear them breath. It was magnificent!
There are about 86 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises in the order Cetacea, which is divided into two sub-orders, the Odontocetes (toothed whales) and the Mysticetes (baleen whales). Blue whales are baleen whales which means instead of having teeth, they have about 400 baleen plates for filtering food from the mouthfuls of seawater they take in. Baleen is composed of the protein keratin, the same substance as hair, horns and nails.
Some info about Blue Whales…
- Blue whales are 100 feet (30 meters) long and weigh upwards of 200 tons (181 metric tons).
- When a blue whale exhales, the spray from its blowhole can reach nearly 30 feet (9 meters) into the air.
- Blue whales feed exclusively on krill (tiny shrimplike animals) and require massive amounts to sustain their large size. Adults can eat four to eight tons (3.6 to 7.3 metric tons) of krill per day.
- Females carry their young for a year before giving birth to a single calf.
- Their average lifespan is 80-90 years.
- The blue whale is currently one of the world’s most endangered whales.
- A blue whale heart can weigh close to 2,000 pounds. Its heartbeat can be detected from two miles away.
- About 100 people can fit in a blue whale’s mouth. Their tongues alone can weigh as much as an elephant (two to three tons.)
- Blue whales’ low-frequency pulses are louder than a jet engine (as loud as 188 decibels) and they can communicate with other whales up to 1,000 miles away.
Some info about Fin Whales…
- Fin whales have been nicknamed the “greyhound of the sea” because they can reach speeds of >25 knots.
- The fin whale is the only universally asymmetrically colored animal in the world. The whale’s right lower jaw is colored white, while the left is all black.
- Fin whales are 65-75 feet long and weigh up to 80 tons.
- Their average lifespan is estimated to be between 50-100 years.
- Fin whales may dive to depths of over 100 fathoms and can remain submerged for up to 25 minutes.
- A fin whale’s blow can rise 20 feet and can be seen for several miles.
A few years ago I had the opportunity to watch humpback whales in Tonga! In fact if it were not for the island running out of petrol and the stormy weather, I would have been able to swim with them. Returning to Tonga is very high on my list of things to do. I have a friend who has taken some amazing whale footage in Tonga!
Happy Orange Suggestion: Learn more about whales!