Lauren has a Bachelor's degree in biology from Virginia Tech and Master's degrees in environmental science & policy and special education from Johns Hopkins University. She has 20 years of teaching experience in public, private, and informal educational settings.
A Blue Whale's World
Imagine how hard it would be to play hide-and-seek if you were 100 feet tall. You wouldn't be able to hide anywhere! Unless, of course, you were a blue whale. Blue whales can be over 100 feet long, and they live all over the world, but they are really hard to find. One reason is that there aren't that many of them, so they are really spread out. Another reason they are hide-and-seek champions is that the ocean is so wide and deep. Even a giant can hide out! The good news is that scientists know enough about blue whale habitats to find them and study them. Even if they are tricky to find, it is still possible to learn more about these enormous denizens of the deep.
Blue whales occupy many different habitats, but their homes share some traits in common. Most blue whales migrate to warmer waters in the winter, and find cooler waters in the summer. They seem to follow their food sources, and also look for safe places to have their babies, which are called calves. Some blue whales will stay in one place all the time if the conditions are right. Blue whales prefer to live in the open ocean, away from land, but they sometimes move closer to shore.
Whales up North
Blue whales in the northern hemisphere prefer the waters off of Canada and Alaska, and they will also travel to waters off of California, Japan, and Korea. Although northern blue whales migrate to warmer waters in the winter, they never stray below the equator. They tend to stay in deeper waters, but are sometimes seen near shore.
Life down South
Blue whales are found all over the southern hemisphere. They have been spotted off the coasts of South America, near ice shelves in Antarctica, and off the coast of Madagascar. Blue whales are also found in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, near Australia. Like their northern relatives, southern blue whales migrate to warmer waters in the winter. They travel north in the winter, toward the equator, and south toward Antarctica in the summer.
Scientists use what they know about blue whale habitats to track their recovery from whaling, which is the hunting of whales for food or for profit. Once technology made them easier to hunt, blue whale populations crashed. Scientists know that the Antarctic and sub-Arctic populations have been slow to recover, but that more whales are being spotted near California. They are even starting returning to pre-whaling migration routes, which may be a good sign.
Blue whales occupy oceans all over the world. Most migrate to warmer waters in the winter, and cooler waters in the summer. Despite their large size, they can be difficult to find because they are so scarce and spread out.
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