What My Teacher Did Not Know About the Blue Whale

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Blue Whales In the Pacific Ocean Are Magnificent

Pacific Environment is a non-profit organization that studies ways of helping maintain the wildlife along the global Pacific Rim (the perimeter of the Pacific Ocean). This includes the major Designated Regions of the Arctic, Alaska, California, China and Russia, along with areas in between.

In the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, the whale is respected as a power animal and the founder of many family lines among First Nations and Native Americans/ Native Alaskans. Much importance is attached to the whale for these reasons and for a tradition of belief that the whale communicates history to the people and protects history; so, the whale appears on carved cedar poles in this region from Alaska to the islands and mainland of British Columbia, to Washington, Oregon. and California.

Blue Whale compared to average human.
Blue Whale compared to average human. | Source

Pacific Environment reports the range of average lengths of the Blue Whale is 79 to 88 feet long.

— Pacific Environment

Blue Whales Are Leviathans

The Blue Whale has been the largest mammal and the largest animal that ever lived on Earth, reported as such in the 1940s and 1950s in a variety of old collectors' edition encyclopedias. Despite the intervening years and the discoveries of many other large animals past and present, none approaches the size of the Blue Whale.

Pacific Environment reports about 3,000 Blue Whales living around California coasts. However, it seems that shifting climates, ocean changes, and decreasing levels of noise are disturbing these sea mammals. In addition, chimerical ships are hitting them with greater frequency in recent years, because of increases in the Shipping Industry. Therefore, with fewer than 14,000 left globally, the Blue Whale is an endangered species.

The Largest One

The blue whale is a huge sea mammal, one of our baleen whales. At over 90 feet in length. and 400,000 tons, this is the largest and heaviest animal ever to exist to date.

This whale's rib bones make a walk-through archway in New Zealand.
This whale's rib bones make a walk-through archway in New Zealand. | Source

Blue Whale Measurements

Pacific Environment reports the range of average lengths of the Blue Whale is 79 to 88 feet long.

An encyclopedia from the 1950s that I found recently reported the Blue Whale's average length to be 80 feet, so it was a close figure to the present range, even in 1950.

The range of average weights today is 130 to 150 tons, but National Geographic uses the number of 200 tons when representing the Blue Whale. This number is also 400,000 pounds.

Could a pair of these animals have fit onto Noah's Ark?

The Smithsonian Says So!

In 5th grade reports, we had access to photocopies of recent Smithsonian Institution drawings comparing the images and physical characteristics of humans, elephants, the largest dinosaurs, and the blue whale, which was significantly the largest of them all.

Are K-5 Teachers Prepared To Teach Sciences?

Although teachers in grades 1 through 6 have been required to teach sciences in Ohio for decades, some have not received adequate training themselves in these classes. In my Grade 5 class, particularly, misinformation was rampant concerning mammals. As a project, we were required to choose a land or sea mammal current or past and report its characteristics and habitat range.

Our teacher was of the opinion that dinosaurs were larger than any other mammal living or extinct. When asked how big dinosaurs could become, she had no information other than the word huge. She was embarrassed to see our photocopies of recent Smithsonian graphs and line drawings comparing the images and physical characteristics of humans, elephants, the largest dinosaurs, and the blue whale, which was significantly the largest of any.

How large is an elephant? We did not ask her.

Blue Whale Coloring Page. Click to enlarge, and print.
Blue Whale Coloring Page. Click to enlarge, and print. | Source

On average, 50 elephants = 1 blue whale.

Savannah Elephants
Savannah Elephants | Source

How Big Is an Elephant? A Whale Tongue?

We go to many experts in the field of large land mammals. These are Defenders of Wildlife, the National Zoo of the Smithsonian Institution, National Geographic, and the Cincinnati Zoo (which is always eager to answer questions).

We in the world have several types of elephants, but they are losing their habitat to warming and drying climates.

  • African elephants occur in two subspecies: Savannah and Forest.
  • Asian elephants express four subspecies: Borneo, Indian, Sri Lankan, and Sumatran.

Elephant and Whale

Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge | Source

Whale and Elephant

Any elephant calf can weigh up to 250 pounds or more, so could the tongue of the Blue Whale weigh as much as a full grown elephant? Possibly. Bull elephants have been found in the range of weights from 6,000 to15,000 pounds.

The entire whale of which we speak can weigh on the high average end of 150 tons or more = 300,000 pounds. The smallest of the largest (male) elephants would then weigh 6,000/300,000 or only 1/50 of the weight of the whale. Here, then, 50 Elephants = 1 Blue Whale.

At these figures, two or three of these elephants can fit inside the mouth of the Blue Whale shown on National Geographic charts, so yes, this size elephant weighs less than the tongue of the Blue Whale. The tongue weighs more - unless it is hollow, which it is not.

This Is Only A PYGMY Blue Whale

Source

Whales Are Like Elephants Linguistically

I think that whales are like undersea elephants, elephants like landed whales.

Elephants communicate in a language studied more closely than before in the 2000s and 2010s by researchers living near them. In addition, elephant rumble-sounds of frequencies humans may not hear travel across the ground in the jungles and are picked up through elephant feet. Similar tendencies are true for whales.

It turns out that Blue Whales are very loud vocally, sometimes out-shouting a jet engine. They produce a series of pulses and moans loud enough to travel halfway across an ocean, at frequencies below that of human hearing capability.

Blue Whales and elephants must be cousins, at least linguistically.

I don't think any of these blue leviathans shrank, grew legs, turned grey and walked out of the Pacific Ocean. Humorously, perhaps my 5th grade teacher might have thought so after reading our reports.

Blue Whales Increasing In Number

The BBC One Big Blue Live show was filming in the Monterey Bay area of California during September 2015 and its crew and reporters witnesses a blue whale surface among many humpback whales. It even pouted for the cameras (please see the video).

These mammals and other wildlife are repopulating the Monterey Bay, whereas they had been declining in numbers, either hunted or migrating to near disappearance.

Monterey Bay Blue Whale

show route and directions
A markerMonterey Bay -
Monterey Bay, United States
[get directions]

B markerMoss Landing, California -
Moss Landing, CA, USA
[get directions]

Take off point of many humpback whale watching tours and location of blue whale sighting 9/8/2015.

© 2012 Patty Inglish

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Comments 23 comments

ronny2005 profile image

ronny2005 4 years ago from HubPages

Such an informational hub! I did not knew that an Elephant weighs lesser than a Blue Whale's tongue. Only thing that surprised me about Blue Whale was that a human could easily swim in its nerves. My friends would be astonished to hear this!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

I wonder if any Blue Whale is in a zoo? I think not.


JKenny profile image

JKenny 4 years ago from Birmingham, England

Great hub, Patty. I remember reading that the Blue Whale's heart weighs more than a family car. Like you, I don't think there are any Blue Whale's in a zoo, but there is a life size model in the Natural History in London. Its so awesome standing next to it, you feel like an ant. Voted up and shared.


mljdgulley354 profile image

mljdgulley354 4 years ago

Great information. I didn't know there was another animal bigger than an elephant.


ctbrown7 4 years ago

That is cool, Patty. The Blue Whale is quite a remarkable creature.


diamondadvice profile image

diamondadvice 4 years ago

cool hub


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

These whales are bigger than some boats, yet they eat tiny shrimp-like krill all day. It's a puzzlement.


katieababy74 profile image

katieababy74 4 years ago from Auckland

Wow thank you so much I have a wealth of knowledge now to pass onto my daughter whose question it was! Awesome thanks


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

That's very nice that your daughter asked. It surely brought back memories and the info is from well respected places.

But dinosaurs are just "huge", you know :)


katieababy74 profile image

katieababy74 4 years ago from Auckland

My other daughter is the dinosaur girl :))


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica

It just occurred to me that the comparison you made between the whale and the elephant is dead on. Even the sounds they make seem to be similar. I have been so fascinated with this animal for such a ling time.

We grew up thinking that dinosaurs were the largest animals so it was really an experience learning on our own that the whale was the largest.

There was a debate in our community as to which animal was the largest so image my neighbours' surprise when I told them it was the blue whale. Everyone thought it was a dinosaur. One man said it was a "lavacan", I am still trying to find an animal with that name....lol.

I thoroughly enjoyed this.


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida

What interesting facts you have disclosed, Patty. So a blue whale's tongue weighs more than an elephant. OMG, who knew? Thanks for all this neat information. Do email it to that uninformed teaching person.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

Cardisa - That's very interesting - "lavacan" almost sounds like "leviathan" in the Old Testament English translation, but I'm not sure. Some people think the leviathan was a giant whale.

Whale song often wounds to me like elephants trumpeting underwater, so I like them both.

drbj - I wish I still knew the uninformed teaching person, but alas, she is deceased. Perhaps she has met a Blue Whale! I fault her university for telling her she was prepared to teach biology, tho.


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica

Hi Patty, I found this exact article on a site that has stoen hundreds of hubs from this site. The site is called BigEzine(dot)com. I sent you an alert but not sure if you got it. You can deny the comment after reading.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States

The facts in this hub were so interesting. I did not know the blue whale was so much larger than the elephant. This was a very interesting hub.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

Cardisa - Thanks! A few people sent me notifications that they found the Hub, so I sent DMCA complaints to site, platform host, admin person; hope the whole site comes down. They are stealing everything from HP.

Pamela99 - I think few people have seen a Blue Whale or a skeleton of same, because staff cannot fit them into zoos.


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 4 years ago

I had no idea how large the blue whale actually is. It's mind-bogglig.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

POP! It's good to see you. A Blue Whale could swallow the whole administration before the election, couldn't it?


kidscrafts profile image

kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

Thank you for all the information! Great hub! I was quite surprised to learn that an elephant (that is quite big by himself) weighs as much as the tongue of a whale...wouaw! It's hard to even try to put that image in my mind!

Let's just hope that we can save both those mammals from extinction!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

AND, it takes 2 or 3 elephants to equal the average Blue Whale tongue. Hard to imagine.


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica

When I told my fiancé and his friends about the tongue of the whale compared to the weight of the elephant their jaws dropped, you should have seen there faces...lol


kidscrafts profile image

kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

As a teacher, I also like your title....really great title! And thanks for the additional info about the weight of the tongue!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

I bet that was funny to see. Not enough people are teaching others about the Blue Whale and other sea creatures.

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    Patty Inglish (Patty Inglish, MS)6,757 Followers
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