The largest animal – the blue whale – sets a number of impressive records. It’s also one of the loudest and hungriest species on Earth.
Blue whales are simply enormous, ranging in length from 24-33 metres, and females are up to 10 metres longer than their male counterparts. Tipping the scales at up to 200 tonnes, a whale needs to eat about four tonnes of krill (shrimp-like crustaceans) daily. To put that into perspective, an adult male African elephant weighs six tonnes! In order to eat, the blue whale expands its throat plates and takes in both water and krill, then it pushes the water out through its baleen plates, swallowing the krill that has stayed inside its mouth.
There are fewer than 25,000 blue whales, the largest animals on the planet. Comprising several subspecies, blue whales are found in all of the world’s oceans save the Arctic. The current population is thought to have been reduced by up to 90% by whaling in the 20th century. Commercial hunting of the species was ultimately banned in 1966. The National Marine Fisheries Service of the U.S. spelled out a recovery plan in 1998. It stipulated the maintenance of photo databases of individual specimens and the collection of genetic and migration data in order to better understand the species, which remains at risk from ship collisions and entanglement in fishing nets.Most biologists consider it among the most endangered of the great whales.