American Oceans

How Big is a Blue Whale? Blue Whale Size Facts and Curiosities

Blue whales capture the attention of many people. These massive mammals spend their entire lives in the ocean and hold many records in size and sound.

a large blue whale swims next to a boat

People often wonder how big blue whales are and what their size means compared to other animals. Here we’ll provide an overview of blue whale size and some interesting facts.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about blue whales. By the end of this article, you will be an expert in blue whale size, appearance, and other categories.

What Is a Blue Whale? Quick Facts

Blue whales are the largest animals on Earth and grow to an impressive size. An adult blue whale typically measures between 24 and 33 meters in length. That’s roughly the size of three school buses parked end to end!

blue whale full length under the ocean

Blue whales may weigh up to 150 metric tons or 300,000 pounds, equal to about 20 elephants. Even their tongues can weigh as much as an elephant. They are easily the largest animal on the planet!

The blue whale’s heart is the size of a small car, and its blood vessels are so wide a human can easily swim through them. Blue whales even have the loudest call of any animal in the world, and you can hear their call from miles away.

You can consider adult blue whales to be the masters of the ocean. You can find them in all the oceans except the Arctic. You can even find them in the frigid Southern ocean and North Atlantic.

Pods of blue whales migrate seasonally between summer grounds abundant with food and winter breeding grounds in the southern hemisphere. However, not all blue whales migrate.

Blue Whale Appearance

The blue whale has distinctive blue-gray skin with mottled white patches. They have long, streamlined bodies and large, triangular heads. They have two blowholes on the top of their head and one dorsal fin near the base of their tail.

Blue Whale (balaenoptera musculus)

Blue whales also have unique throat grooves that allow them to expand their mouths when they feed. Blue whales can consume up to 6 tons of tiny krill in one gulp when they open their mouths.

While blue whales can be intimidating in size and sound, they are gentle giants. If a blue whale is intrigued by something, it may follow the object for hours.

Blue Whale Size

Given how large blue whales are, it can be hard to comprehend how massive these magnificent marine mammals are. To give you a better idea of the size of these gigantic creatures, I’ve compared them to different types of animals.

Blue Whale Size Comparison

The blue whale is much larger than a human and can measure up to 33 meters (109 feet). That’s about four times the size of an African elephant, the largest land mammal. A blue whale is also larger than a humpback whales, sperm whales, or baleen whales.

a pair of blue whales swims under the surface

A female blue whale is about 21-27 meters (70-90 feet). Twenty-seven meters is about the same length as two full-size school buses, six mid-size cars, or 15 grown men!

To put blue whale size into perspective, blue whales are the largest animals on Earth and have been for millions of years. Even if you took the blue whale and stacked it on top of the largest dinosaur, it would still be bigger than all known dinosaurs.

Blue Whale Heart Size

Everything about blue whales is enormous, including their hearts. The average blue whale’s heart measures over 1000 pounds which is more significant than a dairy cow, and weighs most than some small cars.

The blue whale’s heart also pumps an impressive amount of blood. Blue whales can pump up to 5 liters of blood during long dives per minute.

Blue Whale Tongue Size

Blue whales have big mouths, which isn’t surprising, given how much they need to eat. The tongue inside their mouth is shocking in size as well.

The average blue whale’s tongue weighs over 3,600 kg (8000 pounds). A blue whale’s tongue weighs more than two mid-size cars! To put that in perspective, a blue whale’s tongue weighs more than a female Asian elephant!

Blue Whale Weight

Blue Whale underwater

The blue whale’s weight is astounding. Blue whales can weigh up to 150 metric tons or 300,000 pounds. This weight makes the blue whale the heaviest animal in the world and the same size as 20 elephants or 30 mid-size cars. 

There are some cases of pygmy blue whales which are much smaller than fully grown adults. Even the pygmy blue whales are larger than a full size car. 

Blue Whale Facts

There are many more fascinating things about the blue whale. Almost every aspect of this beautiful animal is beyond belief.

Blue Whale Diet

The blue whales eat small animals like krill, fish, and plankton. Blue whales can consume up to 6 tons of these tiny creatures in one gulp. To put the blue whale diet into perspective, a blue whale can eat as much as 40 million krill per day.

Blue whales have plenty of food in the vast oceans, but their diet has declined due to overfishing and climate change which is putting this endangered species in further danger.

Blue Whale Conservation

Blue whale conservation is of the utmost importance. Blue whales are the largest animals on Earth, so their extinction would cause worldwide ramifications that can’t be reversed.

Blue Whale underwater

Multiple blue whale conservation efforts are underway worldwide to protect blue whales and help them survive and thrive and they currently have worldwide protection.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed blue whales as endangered species due to their declining population numbers.

You can help conservation efforts by supporting blue whale research and conservation initiatives, reducing your plastic consumption, and encouraging sustainable fishing practices.

They have few natural predators outside of killer whales and humans have the largest impact on this species because they fall victim to ship strikes, fishing gear, and climate change. 

How Loud is a Blue Whale?

Another interesting fact is that blue whales can make some of the loudest noises in the animal kingdom. Blue whales are the loudest animals on Earth.

Their call can reach up to 188 decibels and be heard by other blue whales hundreds of miles away. That’s louder than a jet engine starting on full throttle!

How Fast Can A Blue Whale Swim?

The blue whale is also the fastest swimming marine mammal in the sea. Blue whales can swim up to 50 kilometers per hour (31 miles per hour). They can swim as fast as a gas-powered scooter to put blue whale speed into perspective.

A blue whale swims under the surface

How Big Is a Baby Blue Whale?

Baby blue whales are also awe-inspiring. A newborn blue whale calf can measure up to 7 meters (23 feet) and weigh up to 2,700 kg (6,000 pounds). At this size, blue whale calves are already much bigger than adult humans!

How Long Do Blue Whales Live?

The oldest blue whale can live up to 80 years in the wild, which makes them one of the longest-lived mammals on the planet.

They are believed to reach sexual maturity at around ten years of age and can then reproduce every two to three years. The blue whale is a long-lived species, and its average lifespan is estimated to be approximately 70 years.

Blue Whales are Incredibly Intelligent

On top of their size and speed, blue whales are brilliant. They can use complex communication, learn new behaviors quickly, and remember what they have learned. They have an immense brain-to-body ratio, which scientists believe may account for their intelligence.

Aerial shot of a blue whale in the indian ocean

Perhaps the blue whale’s most impressive feat of intelligence is its use of complex communication. Blue whales communicate through various vocalizations, known as “songs,” consisting of sequences and sound patterns.

The blue whale’s song can travel up to hundreds of miles, and blue whales from all over the world have been found to sing the same song.

The blue whale is also able to learn and remember new behaviors quickly.

For example, scientists have observed blue whales in the North Atlantic changing their migratory patterns based on changes in their environment, suggesting that blue whales can adapt to new circumstances quickly and efficiently, which is a sign of intelligence.

Blue Whales and Their Families

Like many other animals, blue whales form complex familiar systems to protect and care for one another. Families can include two blue whales, a mother, and calf, a male or female of the species, or even larger pods. These families stay together for a few months, often traveling and feeding.

So, How Big Is a Blue Whale?

Blue whales are the largest animal in the animal kingdom by a large margin and are larger than any dinosaur fossils we have discovered. 

However, blue whales are much more than just the largest animal on Earth; they are also intelligent creatures capable of using complex communication, learning and adapting quickly, and remembering what they have learned.

Their sheer size and strength are an awe-inspiring sight, but blue whales are also a sign of the intelligence and adaptability of nature. Blue whales are a reminder that the animal kingdom is vast and full of wonders.

It’s no wonder blue whales have become such an iconic symbol of the sea and we need to protect this endangered species for future generations. 

What is your favorite blue whale fact? Let us know in the comments below.

2 comments

  • Amazing in all categories. I will study the blue whales this spring in Loreto. We must do more to protect all whales. Banning the use of single use plastic should be a world wide goal. Commercial fishing practices must change.