WHERE YOU CAN SEE BLUE WHALES:
You can see Blue Whales from the roadside turnouts while in Big Sur. Monterey Bay Whalewatch sponsors boat trips out of Monterey Bay
It is scarcely possible to imagine the size of the blue whale, the largest animal inhabiting the earth. There are records of individuals over 100 feet, but 70-90 feet is probably average. An average weight for an adult is 200,000-300,000 pounds (100-150 tons). Its heart alone is as large as a small car.
Blue whales are an overall blue-gray color, mottled with light gray. Cold water diatoms sometimes give their bellies a yellowish tinge, giving the blue whale its nick-name of "Sulfur bottom." Blue whales are long and streamlined. The dorsal fin is extremely small, and the pectoral flippers are long and thin.
Blue whales have been found in every ocean of the world. Blue whales swim individually or in small groups. Pairs are very commonly seen.
Blue whales are rorqual whales, a family of baleen whales with pleated throat grooves that expand when the animal takes in water while feeding. More than 55-68 throat grooves extend from the throat to the navel. The favorite food of these giants is krill, or shrimp-like euphasiids, that are up to three inches long. Blues must eat one to two tons of krill a day during the feeding season. They concentrate on feeding during the polar summers, and migrate to warmer waters in the winter. Blue whale baleen is black.
Gestation lasts about one year, and at birth, the blue whale calf is about 23 feet long and weighs 5,000-6,000 pounds. A nursing blue whale mother produces over 50 gallons of milk a day. The milk contains 35-50% milk fat and enables the calf to gain weight at a rate of up to nine pounds an hour or over 200 pounds a day! At eight months of age and an average length of over 45 feet, the calf is weaned. The blue whale reaches sexual maturity around 10 years of age.
The blue whale was too swift and powerful for the 19th century whalers to hunt, but with the arrival of harpoon cannons, they became a much sought after species for their large amounts of blubber. The killing reached a peak in 1931 when 29,649 blue whales were taken. By 1966, blues were so scarce that the International Whaling Commission declared them protected throughout the world. Today, there are fewer than 10,000 blue whales in the oceans, and they are considered an endangered species. We can however, see them in the summer and fall off the central California coast, *Big Sur* feeding in such places as the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries.
Download our local Big Sur Visitors Guide in Adobe PDF.
THIS INFORMATION SUPPLIED BY THE MARINE MAMMAL CENTER