Blue Whales are back!
They are big; they are impressive and they are back!
Blue Whales are back in Monterey!
The largest animals to ever walk the earth, or swim in this case. Blue Whales can reach a length of 100ft (30.4m) and weigh as much as 400,00lbs. When these whales are seen just below the surface of the water they look to be a light blue to a turquoise color. This is where the name Blue Whale name originated from. For the most part, these whales travel by themselves and can swim over vast areas of the world’s oceans. This coupled with the fact that Blue Whales were almost hunted to extinction in the last century makes them difficult to study and thus we know very little about them, so it always excited to catch a glimpse of them.
We do know that Blue Whales are surprisingly fast for their size and usually travel at speeds of 12 to 14 miles per hour and can burst to speeds of up to 30 miles per hour. When feeding these whales slow down to about 3 miles per hour. Blue Whales feed on one of the smallest organisms in the oceans, krill, a small shrimp-like an animal. In a typical day, a single Blue Whale can eat up to 7,715 pounds of krill. Like most baleen whales the Blue Whale feeds using a technique called lunge feeding. Lunge feeding is when the whale rushes up to the water surface with their mouths wide open. This allows the whales to take in large volumes of water and food. In the case of the Blue Whale, 15,000 gallons of water and food can be held in its mouth once its 55 to 68 ventral pleats expand allowing the whale’s mouth the expand out like a bullfrog. Like all whales Blue Whales do not swallow the water they collect in their mouths during lunge feeding, instead they force the water out of their mouth by pushing their 6,000 to 8,000 pound tongue to the rough of their mouths and force the water out between their 260 to 400 baleen plates trapping a mouth full of krill. Usually, this lunge feeding happens horizontally in the water column but on rare occasions can happen vertically as well.
In order to stay in touch Blue Whales create large low-frequency sounds that are so low human ears cannot detect it. These low-frequency sounds can be heard by other Blue Whales hundreds of miles away and since their ears are about 15 feet apart Blue Whales are experts on determining which direction their friends are calling from. However, since Blue Whales do not have a voice box it is unclear how they produce these low-frequency sounds.
When seen from the boats it is usually their tall straight spouts that are first spotted. These spouts or blows can be as tall at 35 feet and can be is seen from quite a distance away. A typical sighting pattern for Blue Whale is a fallow: the whale will blow which is then followed by the long roll of the back at the surface which will then be followed by the very small dorsal fin which may or may not is followed by the tail flukes. Only about 1% of the worlds Blue Whale population will show their tail flukes when diving so it’s always exciting when one of these mighty whales decides to show us their flukes. A Blue Whales flukes can be as large as 25ft wide! So come on out and join us and who knows you might be lucky enough to see the largest animal to ever live on our plant and who knows they might even give you a like fluke.