Up to 33 metres
80-90 years (estimated)
I am the largest, longest, heaviest, one of nature’s most magnificent beings and a multi-record breaker – I am a BLUE WHALE! I am the largest animal to ever have roamed this planet, I am nearly as large as a Boeing 737 while I weigh three times as much! I can grow about 30 metres long and weigh 100-190 tons, which is equal to about 30 fully grown African elephants. In fact, my tongue alone weighs as much as one elephant – that is about 4 tons! However, I am not just impressive once fully grown: my whole life long I have been! We blue whales are born as the largest babies in the world with a length of up to 8 metres and 4 tons in weight. From the day I am born I will grow 3-4 cm and gain 90 kg per day for the first few months of my life – until I have doubled my size at the age of only 6 months!
While as a calf I drink hundreds of litres of milk daily, once old enough I will feed on several tons of krill day after day while in my feeding grounds – that is around 40 million krill daily assuming I counted right. With every mouthful of krill, I take in about 457.000 calories: I can fill my throat with a volume of water greater than the volume of my entire body, which means I can swallow up to 360 kg of krill in just one gulp!
Why I am so sure to be the largest ever having roamed this planet? Just imagine an animal of my size on land! How’d I manoeuvre on land without getting stuck or bumping into anything? The ocean provides buoyancy, which helps me get around easily (still, in average I only move on speeds between 5 and 20 km/h). If I had to move on land, I’d need even more muscles to succeed gravity. That in turn means more energy and even more food. In the end, the ocean is the only place on Earth capable of fulfilling my needs. And being very honest, more likely than not, I’d simply just collapse under the weight of my bones and muscles if I tried to make a move on land. This is why not even the largest dinosaur could have possibly been larger than I!
Back to the facts:
My heart, which might beat as little as twice per minute while I am diving, pumps a total of about 10 tons of blood through my body and 220 litres at each beat. In fact, to make this all possible, there are miles of veins in my body. My heart weighs around 180 kg, which sure sounds a lot, but in the end, it is just about 1% of my body’s weight!
My lungs can hold up to 5.000 litres and while the air leaves my body on a speed of up to 600 km/h, I can fill up my lungs again with the blink of an eye (1-2 seconds)!
Last, I am loud: my voice reaches 188 decibel (that is louder than a jet taking off) and if I wanted, I could literally talk to my relatives on the other side of the Atlantic – a 1.000 miles away!
We blue whales pass by Skjálfandi Bay on our journey north towards our feeding grounds in the Arctic. The waters around Iceland aren’t providing enough food for us (we enjoy stopping by for a snack however before continuing our travels). After about four very busy months of feeding, we slowly return towards warmer waters along the west coast of Africa, which is where we mate and our calves are born.
While especially during June I might be sighted rather frequently in Skjálfandi Bay, don’t take my presence for granted: I have become so rare, you’re among just 1% of the world’s population that will ever have the chance to see me up close!
Relative size to a human