The Physics
An encyclopedia of scientific essays

Mass of a Whale

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Bibliographic Entry Result
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"Blue Whale." Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica, 1998. "The largest of all known animals, the blue whale attains a maximum length and weight of about 30 meters (100 feet) and 150 tons; the largest known individual, a female 33.58 meters (110.14 feet) in length, was reported in 1922." 140
metric tons
Blue Whale. Whale and Dolphin Conservative Society. "Adults weigh between 100 and 120 tonnes, as much as about 2000 people which is more than 25 elephants! Newborns weigh approximately 2.5 tonnes. The heaviest blue whale ever recorded was a massive 190 tonnes." 100-120
metric tons
Engel, Leonard. The Sea. New York: Time Inc, 1971: 148. "This means that the record blue whale probably weighed 170 tons, as much as 2,267 150-pound human beings." 150
metric tons
Guinness World Records. Falkland Islands Philatelic Bureau. 2 March 2002. "A female Blue Whale weighing 190 tonnes (418,877lb) and measuring 27.6m (90ft 5in) in length was caught in the Southern Ocean on 20 March 1947." 190
metric tons
Balaenoptera musculus (Blue Whale). Cetacea. 2002. "It weighs between 100-120 tonnes, the heaviest recorded was a female weighing 200 tonnes." 100-120
metric tons
metric tons

There are two different types of whales, baleen whales and toothed whales. Baleen whales are usually much larger than toothed whales and possess baleen plates. These plates are used to filter out small organisms from the water, which compose their diet. Whales can grow to such huge sizes because water supports their weight against the pull of gravity. Out of the 79 currently recognized species of cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises), the blue whale is the largest.

Balaenoptera masculus is the largest order of whales commonly known as the blue whale. It is the largest known creature to have ever lived growing to lengths of 30 m and weighing as much as 180 metric tons. Balaenoptera musculus weighs 15 times as much as the heaviest recorded elephant -- 12,200 kg. The tongue of this enormous creature alone weighs as much as an elephant and its heart is approximately the size of a Volkswagen Beetle, weighing 1000 kg. Its aorta is so large a person could crawl in it. On the average this monstrous creature eats 3600 kg of food each day. An amazing feat given that it can't swallow anything larger than an apple.

Whales mostly experience their environment in terms of sound. They use echolocation to see their surroundings and communicate through songs. Whales communicate through very low frequency sounds. Larger animals tend to produce lower pitched sounds as a result of thicker vocal chords. Blue whales for example vocalize in frequencies of 10 to 39 Hz. The humpback whale is known to be the most distinguished singer. Its long complex melodies change with the seasons and from year to year. There are speculations to a whale's intelligence due to its elaborate vocalizations and huge brain size. A sperm whale's brain weighs about 9 kg and is the largest brain in the world. In comparison an average human brain is 1.35 kg.

Michael Shmukler -- 2003