Blue Whales Prevail in the News This Week

It looks like the blue whales are looking for some media attention this week. Intentional or not, here’s a bit of the news they generated.

Around the first of July, New Zealand ended up with a brand new tourist attraction when the largest animal who ever lived drifted onto the beach of North island. People have been flocking to the impromptu gravesite ever since, taking pictures and even climbing on top the massive body.

The whale had been spotted prior to claiming its resting place, floating upside down in the water several kilometers out to sea. Upon closer examination of the beast, scientists have determined that its death was most probably of natural causes.

Officials have said that since the whale likely weighs 100 tonnes they won’t be attempting to move it. Such an endeavor would be likely to cause major damage to any machinery they used in the attempt.

Not three days later, another whale made July history when he went people-watching, and accidentally capsized the boat that had come out to have a look at him, as reported by the Inquisitr here. Apparently this whale was keen on joining in the celebration of independence.

And finally, though this guy is not alive, today a much-loved blue whale exhibit got all wet when the American Museum of Natural History gave it a much-needed annual bath.

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Although the exhibit was originally gray in color, it was given a lovely blue shade back in 2003. However, over the year it gets so dusty it becomes gray again.

“People don’t realize how dusty she gets,” said Melanie Stiassny, a marine biologist with the museum. “I don’t even realize it until she gets cleaned.”

For those of you who are curious just how big a blue whale can get, here are a few facts to ponder. They can get up to 105 feet long and weigh as much as 190 tons. Though it is astronomically huge, its body weight is even distributed along a long, slender form, enabling it to move through the water at a surprising speed of up to 30 miles per hour, especially since their flippers are about a foot long. This species of whale tends to be loner, so if you happen to see a pair of them you’re probably viewing a mother and her baby. Large gatherings of these whales are usually fleeting, and it’s the food in the area they are interested in rather than each other. Their diet mainly consists of squid, fish and krill, and if food it readily available one whale will consume around 8,000 ponds of food each day.

A mature female generally gives birth to a 23 foot long, 2-3 ton calf every few years, though their mating rituals for obtaining this baby have never been observed. The offspring have a voracious appetite, consuming around 150 gallons of milk from the mother each day. The blue whale is endangered, and laws were put into action back in 1966 to help protect them from being hunted into extinction. Left to its natural life cycle, a blue whale could live to be 80 years old.