Wild Fact #943 – This Mammal is no Shrimp – Blue Whale

Courtesy of www.oceanlight.com

Courtesy of www.oceanlight.com

After talking about land and air born animals for the last few facts it is time to head back to the sea to find the largest known mammal ever to roam (errr… swim) the earth.  Of course I am talking about the blue whale which can be over 100′ long while weighing in at a staggering 200 tons! Just to put the size of the blue whale into perspective lets look at a few interesting facts.  Their tongues weigh as much as an elephant and their hearts, well they weigh as much as an automobile, and I am not talking about one of those little smart cars either.  I am talking about a regular automobile. Now, if that doesn’t impress you then I have absolutely no idea what else to say!

The incredible thing about the blue whale is they are the largest mammal ever and they get this way by eating shrimp also known as krill.  You know how much shrimp you would have to eat to get to this size? Approximately 8000 pounds of sea food per day. Luckily, krill are one of the most common food sources in the world second only to insects.  They tend to travel in very large groups which makes things easier for big blue who can take down about 1000 krill in one quick swoop. So how does the blue whale eat this much krill? I doubt they dip them in seafood sauce and pull the tails off. Actually, they just open their mouths and take in as much as they can.  But what about the water you ask?  If they take in that much water wouldn’t they be bloated or at the very least have to pee more than your 95 year old grandpa on a long road trip. Well the truth is they have a structure in their mouth called a baleen.  This baleen structure is basically numerous overlapping plates comprised of a material similar to finger nails. This acts like a filter for the blue whale.  After they take in all of this sea water they are able to force it out of their mouth using their elephant size tongue.  These baleen plates allow the water to get through but stop those yummy shrimp.  This allows the whale to remove the water and eat thousands of shrimp for dinner. Note the blue whale are part of a group of baleen whales which have similar structures.  Other animals that give up their teeth for baleen plates include the right whale, minke whale, bowhead whale and the humpback whale to name a few.

I hope you enjoyed today’s post and I would love to stay and talk more about the blue whale but I have this sudden craving for shrimp so I guess I will chat more with you tomorrow!

4 Responses

  1. Linda 8 years ago
    • Nathan Nathan 8 years ago
  2. Agapelife 8 years ago
    • Nathan Nathan 8 years ago

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