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the web of life in southern Africa

Balaenoptera musculus (Blue whale)

Sibbald's rorqual, great blue whale, sulphur-bottom, blue rorqual [English]; blouwalvis [Afrikaans]; Schanelwal, Riesenwal, Blauwal, Breitmauliger Finnfisch [German]; rorqual de Sibbald, rorqual bleu, baleine bleue [French]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Synapsida (mammal-like reptiles) > Therapsida > Theriodontia >  Cynodontia > Mammalia (mammals) > Placentalia (placental mammals) > Laurasiatheria > Ferungulata > Cetartiodactyla (even-toed ungulates and cetaceans) > Whippomorpha > Cetacea (whales, dolphins and porpoises) > Family: Balaenopteridae (rorquals)

Balaenoptera musculus (Blue whale)

Blue whale just outside Monterey harbor, California, USA. [photo Jim Scarff ]

Balaenoptera musculus (Blue whale)

Blue whale blowing in Monterey Bay, California, USA. [photo Jim Scarff ]

Balaenoptera musculus (Blue whale)

Blue whale. [Illustration Noel Ashton ]

The Blue Whale is the largest animal ever to have existed or to exist. A Blue Whale averages 25 metres in length, with a maximum recorded length of 31 metres. Their average weight is between 80 and 130 thousand kilograms, with a recorded maximum weight of 178 thousand kilograms. They are huge streamlined animals with a tiny dorsal fin of around 30 centimetres high and with their head consiting of about 25% of their body length. They are predominantly blue-grey in colour, that lightens towards the underside. Their blow is a single thin column of about 10 metres high.

Text by Derek Ohland