The Blue Whale

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The Blue Whale

Balaenoptera Musculus, or the blue whale, is the largest mammal in the world. This enormous mammal can grow to be 110 feet long and weigh as much as 190 tons. That's longer than two city buses and the total weight of 30 elephants. This giant is powered by a heart the size of a taxi-cab. The blue whale's of the Antarctic grow larger than those of the Northern Hemisphere. Also, the females tend to be slightly larger than the males of the same age. These mammals are bluish-gray in color, with some paler spots. Algae tends to accumulate on their bellies causing a yellowish or mustard color. It has a mottled appearance with a broad, flattened U-shaped head. Fifty to ninety throat grooves run from the mouth to the belly. Instead of teeth, blue whales have 270 to 400 black baleen plates on each side of their mouths. These plates are about forty inches long and twenty-two inches wide. The blue whale has a tiny, stubby dorsal fin set far back on its body. It has a 20 foot wide, slightly notched, triangular flukes, which is propelled by an extremely thick tail stock. The flippers on this creature are long and slender, and are about one-seventh of the whale's body length. The blue whale's most prominent feature is its exceptionally fleshy splashgaurd, which surrounds the blowholes at the front and sides. This whale spouts a single slender jet that soars forty to fifty feet high.

The blue whale has very poor eyesight, no sense of smell, and has no sense of taste. However, the blue whale does have well-developed senses of touch and hearing. This large mammal has a life span of about eighty years.

At this time there is not too much known about the blue whale's behavior. Blowing and diving patterns vary according to the whale's activity. The blue whale blows every ten to twenty seconds for a total of two to six minutes, when relaxed, and then dives. They usually stay submerged for five to twenty minutes, but can stay under for up to 40 minutes. Blue whale's usually dive to around 490 feet, but can go deeper if need be. When swimming slowly, the whale rises at a shallow angle. He blows as soon as the head begins to brake the surface. The head disappears below the surface and a long expanse of the back rolls into view. The dorsal fin normally appears some time after the blow has dispersed and the head has disappeared. The dorsal fin is visible only briefly before the whale arches its back in preparation for the dive. Sometimes the whale arches its tail stock, but often simply sinks below the surface.

The blue whale can accelerate to speeds of over 19 miles per hour when it is being chased, but usually he swims much slower. Adult whales rarely, if ever, breach clear of the water. Youngsters, however, have been observed breaching at an angle of 45 degrees, and landing on their stomachs or sides.

Blue whales are close knit and are usually found in groups of 1-5. You may see up to 30 whales gathered at the feeding grounds. Most feeding seems to take place during the evening and early morning. The whales produce ultrasonic chirps and whistles when feeding. They use a low frequency moan to call to each other.

This mammal uses its powerful muscles in the tail to drive the great fan-shaped blades (flukes) up and down to propel itself through the water. It takes him very little energy to swim. Their bodies are designed better than man-made missiles or submarines. They have a fine oil that lubricates their smooth, thin skin and reduces friction. Blue whales have extremely flexible and marvelously streamlined bodies that help them glide through the water without a ripple. Their bones are light and spongy, making them naturally buoyant. They neither rise nor sink, but can stay at any given depth without any effort. Dorsal fins and flippers give the whale stability and keep them right side up. The flippers rotate at the shoulders and are used for steering and braking.

Blue whales...
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