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Blue Whale

Overview

  • Status
    Endangered
  • Population
    10,000-25,000 individuals
  • Scientific Name
    Balaenoptera musculus
  • Weight
    Close to 200 tons
  • Length
    80-100 feet
  • Habitats
    Oceans

The blue whale is the largest animal on the planet, weighing as much as 200 tons (approximately 33 elephants). The blue whale has a heart the size of a Volkswagen Beetle. Its stomach can hold one ton of krill and it needs to eat about four tons of krill each day. They are the loudest animals on Earth and are even louder than a jet engine. Their calls reach 188 decibels, while a jet reaches 140 decibels. Their low frequency whistle can be heard for hundreds of miles and is probably used to attract other blue whales.

Blue whale at sunset

Blue whale at sunset, Mexico.

Blue Whale Conservation Gets a Boost

Blue whales and many other marine animals will receive important new safeguards by Chile’s declaration of two new marine protected areas (MPAs) along its southern coast.

blue whale tail

Why They Matter

  • Whales are at the top of the food chain and have an important role in the overall health of the marine environment. During the 20th century, the blue whale was an important whaling target and even after it was protected and commercial whaling stopped in 1966, exploitation efforts by the former Soviet Union persisted.

Threats

  • Population 10,000-25,000 individuals
  • Extinction Risk Endangered
    1. EX
      Extinct

      No reasonable doubt that the last individual has died

    2. EW
      Extinct in the Wild

      Known only to survive in cultivation, in captivity or as a naturalised population

    3. CR
      Critically Endangered

      Facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the Wild

    4. EN
      Endangered

      Facing a high risk of extinction in the Wild

    5. VU
      Vulnerable

      Facing a high risk of extinction in the Wild

    6. NT
      Near Threatened

      Likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future

    7. LC
      Least Concern

      Does not qualify for Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable, or Near Threatened

Gulf of California, Mexico

Like other large whales, blue whales are threatened by environmental change including habitat loss and toxics. Blue whales can also be harmed by ship strikes and by becoming entangled in fishing gear. Although commercial whaling no longer represents a threat, climate change and its impact on krill (shrimp-like crustaceans), blue whales' major prey, makes this cetacean particularly vulnerable.

What WWF Is Doing

Gulf of California, Mexico

Protecting Through Policy

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) is the body charged with regulating whaling and addressing the vast number of other threats to whales, dolphins and porpoises in our oceans such as shipping, climate change, and bycatch. WWF works to make the IWC more effective in reducing all these threats to whales.

Satellite Tracking

Southern Chile’s Gulf of Corcovado is an important feeding area for blue whales. However it is also home to the country’s abundant salmon farms and utilized by artisanal and industrial fisheries. Collectively they create multiple threats to whales, from marine debris to bycatch to vessel strikes. WWF is using satellite tags to see what specific routes are used by the whales and which areas are used the most often. This information will help inform decisions about protected areas, to prevent interactions between whales and salmon farms or wild-caught fisheries.

Experts

Related Species

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