The Physics
Factbook
An encyclopedia of scientific essays

Speed of a Whale

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Bibliographic Entry Result
(w/surrounding text)
Standardized
Result
Bohr, Johnston, & Louise A. Bloomfield. Collier's Encyclopedia. New York: Newfileld, 1997. "It cruises at about 12 knots (14 mph; 22 km/h), but can double this speed if necessary." 6.2 m/s
(cruising)
12 m/s
(sprinting)
Blue Whale ACS Cetacean Fact Sheet. August 1996. "They are fast, strong swimmers, capable of reaching 30 mph (48.3 km/hr) when alarmed, but they usually cruise along at about 12 mph (19.3 km/hr)." 5.4 m/s
(cruising)
13 m/s
(sprinting)
Gross, Grant. Oceanography, sixth edition. Columbus, Ohio: Merrill, 1980. "Baleen (whalebone) whales are filter feeders, have no teeth, and swim slowly, normally at 3.5 km/h (2-3 mph)." ~1 m/s
(feeding)
Conover, Adele. "The Object at Hand". Smithsonian. (October 1996): 28. "Even so, the great size and speed of blues (at up to 25 knots -- or 29 miles per hour -- they went faster than whaling ships follow." 13 m/s

Whales are aquatic mammals. Though the live in the water these animals come up every so often for air. The whale that I chose to research is the Blue Whale. The blue whale is the largest animal to ever live. The females are generally larger than the males and can grow to about thirty meters and weigh more than one hundred tons.

It has no teeth but instead feeds by filtering krill or small fish from the water through hundreds of baleen (these are made of material that is similar to the material in human finger nails) that hang from their upper jaw. The baleen may grow to about one meter in length. These huge animals may consume up to three tons of krill per day.

Though called blue, the animal is a blue gray color, with spots of silver. The whales under parts may be a yellowish color because of microscopic algae.

Before the invention of the exploding harpoon by Sven Foyn, when whalers harpooned a whale it would sink to the bottom of the ocean. For this reason and also because of the great speed of the blue whale, which could be anywhere from 1 to 13 m/s, whales were safe. Around the beginning of the Nineteenth Century hundreds in the whaling industry began to focus their attention on the blue whale. One whale that measured about ninety feet could provide for 120 barrels of oil. This led to the killing of thousands of blue whales. In 1931 more than twenty nine thousand blue whales were killed. Blue whales became very scarce, in 1966 the International Whaling Commission banned all hunting of Blue Whales.

Anansa Latiff -- 2001