blue whale

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Related to Blue Whales: Killer whales, Sperm Whales

blue whale,

a baleen whalewhale,
aquatic mammal of the order Cetacea, found in all oceans of the world. Members of this order vary greatly in size and include the largest animals that have ever lived. Cetaceans never leave the water, even to give birth.
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, Balaenoptera musculus. Also called the sulphur-bottom whale and Sibbald's rorqual, it is the largest animal that has ever lived. Blue whales have been known to reach a length of 100 ft (30.5 m) and to weigh up to 200 tons (180 metric tons), but the typical size is about 70–90 ft (21–27 m) and 100–150 tons (90–135 metric tons). The blue whale is slate blue in color and has a dorsal fin. It is toothless and has fringed baleen, or whalebone, plates in its mouth, which act as a food strainer. As water is expelled from the whale's mouth, plankton is trapped behind the strainer. The neck of the blue whale has 80 to 100 conspicuous furrows called ventral grooves, which alternately expand and contract as the animal takes in and expels water. The blue whale is cosmopolitan in distribution. In summer it inhabits polar seas, feeding in the water of melting icepacks; in winter it migrates to warmer latitudes, occasionally reaching the equator. Mating occurs at the end of winter, with a single calf born every second or third year, after a gestation period of 10 to 11 months. The calf is nursed for 6 months and reaches puberty in about 3 years. Blue whales may live 100 years or more. Because of extensive whalingwhaling,
the hunting of whales for the oil that can be rendered from their flesh, for meat, and for baleen (whalebone). Historically, whale oil was economically the most important. Early Whaling

Whaling for subsistence dates to prehistoric times.
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, their numbers have been reduced from an estimated 400,000 to between 10,000 and 25,000, and they are listed as endangered. In 2014 the California population, which ranges along W North America, was determined by researchers to have recovered to sustainable levels. They are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Cetacea, family Balaenopteridae.

Bibliography

See G. C. Small, The Blue Whale (1971).

blue whale

the largest mammal: a widely distributed bluish-grey whalebone whale, Sibbaldus (or Balaenoptera) musculus, closely related and similar to the rorquals: family Balaenopteridae
References in periodicals archive ?
Previously-classified data have shown there are more blue whales in the Atlantic than previously thought - and they live all year off Scotland.
1) How many bathtubs could a blue whale empty in one gulp?
The Blue Whale & Sea Life Cruise combo ticket is available for purchase on-site at Aquarium of the Pacific or by calling 562-590-3100.
Many people come here to see gray whales and humpbacks, but an increasing number of blue whales are now being spotted - particularly along the Pacific coastline of the Baja Peninsula which extends from California to Mexico.
Partly because of their size, blue whales were - and, in a few places, still are - prized by whalers.
About three to five blue whales are reported killed each year by ships in the area between San Francisco and the Santa Barbara Channel.
Name after name was deliberated upon, until one surfaced and stayed afloat -- Blue Whale.
There are about 100 blue whales in the Santa Barbara Channel and their primary food source, krill, is prevalent in shipping lanes.
As of 2000, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) estimated that 700 to 1,400 blue whales remain in the Southern Hemisphere.
Researchers say that unlike other whales, fin and blue whales do not gather in breeding grounds to mate.
Spending time at the business end of a blue whale is not always an endearing experience.
For underwater listening devices placed off St Kilda to track Soviet submarines have revealed that the area is a highway for giant blue whales.