Blue Whale Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Lauren Scott

Lauren has a Master's degree in special education and has taught for more than 10 years.

This lesson will teach you about the magnificent blue whale. You will learn important facts, like where blue whales live, how they eat, and why they need to be protected.

Blue Whale Basics

Imagine an animal so large that its heart weighs as much as a small car. Picture it pushing thousands of pounds of food down its throat with a tongue that weighs as much as an elephant. This may sound like science fiction, but it's reality for the massive blue whale.

A blue whale may grow to 100 feet in length.
Blue whale

The blue whale is the largest animal in the history of the world. It can grow to a length of 100 feet and 200 tons. It has a long, blue-gray body with a small dorsal fin on its back. The blue whale uses its tail fin, called the fluke, to swim through the ocean at speeds of over 20 miles per hour.

Blue whales do not breathe through gills like fish--they use lungs to breathe air at the surface of the ocean. Many people think whales blow water out of their blowholes, but it's really just air mixed with a little water from the surface.

A small section of baleen
Baleen

The Lives of Blue Whales

Blue whales are found in oceans all over the world, usually in groups called pods. They spend summer near the poles, where they can easily find food. Winter is spent in warmer waters, where they mate.

Females give birth to single babies, called calves. These calves are some of the biggest babies on the planet! A newborn calf is up to 25 feet long and 3 tons. It gains 200 pounds a day for the first year of its life just by drinking its mother's milk.

Nobody knows exactly how long blue whales live, but scientists believe they live more than 50 years. They have few predators but are occasionally attacked by killer whales and sharks.

A Very Tiny Meal

Despite their enormous size, blue whales feast on some of the tiniest animals in the sea: shrimp-like animals called krill. That's because they don't have teeth. Instead, they use rows of bristles on their upper jaws, called baleen. The whale opens its wide mouth and takes in thousands of gallons of water. Then, the whale strains the water out through its baleen and eats the krill left behind.

Blue whales can eat 8,000 pounds of krill each day. They need these huge meals because they go for several months without eating during breeding season. And since they burn about 3 million calories per day, they really need to store their energy!

Krill are tiny, shrimp-like animals.
Krill

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