BLUE WHALE FACTS
Length: 85-110 ft
Balaenoptera musculus are the largest animals to have ever lived on this planet. They are up to 100 feet (30 meters) long and can weigh around 200 tons (180 metric tons). Many of us are familiar with the Blue Whale statistics about how a child can swim through their veins, their tongues are the size of elephants and their hearts as large as Volkswagen Bugs. However nothing quite prepares you for how awesome they are! When you hear their breathing and see them by your boat. Of course we maintain a respectful distance to these magnificent creatures but even at a distance they are impressive!!!
Blue whales when viewed underwater are very blue. At the surface they are a mottled grey color. You can tell when you see a blue whale from a distance because their spray reaches so very high (almost 40 feet). They have a flat broad head and when diving deep will sometimes show their long wide flukes. Here off the shores of Loreto we like to go whale watching on calm days when we can see the spouts even way in the distance.
Blue whales (like Grey, Fin, and humpbacks) are baleen whales. This means they have fringed plates made out of fingernail-like material attached to their upper jaws. They feed by swallowing huge volumes of water containing krill (tiny shrimp-like animals). Their pleated throats expand to accommodate the water. Next they push their tongue (the one the size of an elephant) against the baleen plates. The water is forced out and the krill is trapped behind.
During certain times of year they have been known to eat upwards of 4 tons of krill a day. Here in the Sea of Cortez we have seen large rafts of krill in the water. There are so many it looks like you could climb out of the boat and walk on the krill. The upwelling currents around the islands provide the cold water and nutrients in which these creatures thrive. And where there’s food, there are whales. Even though most whales feed in the summer months, Blue whales must eat year round. On a good year the large rafts of krill provide an ample buffet for these whales.
Sometimes when whale watching we see Blue whale mothers with their calves. The calves themselves are born some of the worlds largest animals. Their gestation is estimated to be 10-12 months. At birth the babies are about 25 feet long. During their 6 month nursing period baby blue whales drink up to 150 gallons of milk a day! They gain around 10 lbs an hour. That's 240 lbs a day!!!!
There is an estimated 10,000-20,000 Blue Whales left on the planet. In 1918 developments in whaling technology permitted whalers to go after what had once been too big prey. Between 1900-1960 some 360,000 blue whales were killed. In the 1930-31 season alone, 29,410 blue whales were killed in Antarctic waters. In 1966 The IWC (International Whaling Commission) passed laws protecting them, however recovery has been slow. Here in Baja we observe the Northern Pacific Population which is suspected to be around 2500 animals.
GREY WHALES, MAGDELENA BAY
The bay of Magdalena is also an excellent place to go whale watching from. Within minutes of leaving the docks we are with the whales. Our guides not only explain about the whales, but also the local flora and fauna. Large breeding colonies of Cormorants and Magnificent Frigate Birds roost in the mangroves that line the shores. Coyotes are often seen strolling the sand dunes. Magdalena bay is a nursery to more than just baby whales!