How Big is a Big Blue?

Kingdom of the Oceans investigates a variety of animals in the ocean big and small. The ocean is home to a multitude of tiny beautiful creatures often hidden away and difficult to find. In Kingdom of the Oceans the cameras turn not just on the small and overlooked creatures, but the large and difficult to find. The oceans are actually vast enough to hide the largest animal in the world, the blue whale. Scientists still know little about these magnificent animals, but the one thing they do know for certain is that these whales are goliaths.

Why so big, blue?

If you think that the dinosaurs were the biggest animals to every roam the earth, think again! Even in a time of giants, the blue whale had them beat. It is the largest known animal to ever live on Earth.

  • Blue whales can grow up to 100 feet (~30 m). Don’t know what that looks like? Imagine two city buses bumper to bumper. Or have you ever been to an NBA basketball game? The whale would be longer than that court!
  • They aren’t just big. They are heavy, weighing up to 200 tons. That’s about 15 school buses or 8 DC-9 aircrafts.
  • Their body parts are gigantic too. A whale tongue may weigh as much as an elephant.
  • A blue whale is big-hearted! Its heart can weigh close to 2,000 pounds (~907 kg) which is as heavy as a small car.
  • A blue whale’s big heart beats loudly and can be detected from two miles away and a human can easily crawl through its major arteries.
  • Blue whales can produce sounds louder than a jet engine (188 dB vs. jet engine’s 140 dB) and can communicate with other whales up to 1,000 miles away.
  • A blue whale can eat about 4 tons of krill a day.
  • A toddler could slip into a blue whale’s blowhole, which sprays air 30 feet (9 m) into the air.

Born Big

Blue whales have been found in every ocean of the world and are found swimming individually or in small groups. Pairs are very common and baby whales swim with their mothers until they are old enough to swim off on their own. Scientists have a difficult time finding newly born blue whales, but it is not because they are small. Blue whale calves are one of the world’s largest creatures even in their first day on the planet. Mother whales are pregnant for about a year and when a baby blue whale emerges it weights up to 3 tons (2.7 metric tons) and stretches to 25 feet (8 meters). Gorging on mother’s milk, this little guy will gain about 200 pounds (91 kilograms) every day for its first year.

Want to know more about the blue whale and other ocean giants? Get uncomfortably close to the massive blue whale, observe the grace and precision of a great white shark attack, and witness the wonder under the waves in Kingdom of the Oceans: Giants of the Deep.

Tune in Sunday March 17 at 8PM et/pt


  1. […] “How Big is a Big Blue?” from National Geographic […]