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A unique eye on the world

Quick: what’s the largest animal ever to inhabit the earth. The dinosaurs? Nope – it’s actually the blue whale. If you know this, either you’ve been paying attention at elementary school or you’re an avid naturalist.

The blue whale is big. Phenomenally big: it’s almost the size of a space shuttle orbiter, or if you don’t know how big that is, just go to your local basketball court. The blue whale is longer than it. They’re also mysterious: despite their size, blue whales are so rare that even experts know little about them.

(More pics after jump)

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Here’s some other fun fast facts about blue whales:

  • Blue whales can grow up to 100 feet (~30 m). Lengthwise that’s the equivalent of two city buses and longer than an NBA basketball court.
  • They can weigh up to 200 tons. That’s about 8 DC-9 aircrafts or 15 school buses.
  • In fact, their tongue alone weigh as much as an elephant. About 100 people can fit in a blue whale’s mouth.
  • A blue whale heart is the size of a Mini Cooper and can weigh close to 2,000 pounds (~907 kg). Its heartbeat can be detected from two miles away and a human can easily crawl through its major arteries.
  • Blue whales can produce sounds louder than a jet engine (188 dB vs. jet engine’s 140 dB) and can communicate with other whales up to 1,000 miles away.
  • A single adult eats about 4 tons of krill (tiny shrimplike animals) a day.
  • The spray from a blue whale’s blowhole is almost as tall as a three-story building (30 feet or 9 m). A toddler can fit into its blowhole.

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Links: Still Blue, article by Ken Brower with photos by Flip Nicklin | Kingdom of the Blue Whale | First Known Footage of a Baby Blue Whale (Flash video player