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The Best Places to See Blue Whales

Looking for The Best Places to See Blue Whales? Then you are in the right place, meet one of the oceans Biggest inhabitants, and also, interestingly enough, the Loudest!

Blue Whales are renowned for being the biggest mammals in the world, a big contrast to some of the worlds smallest mammals. They roam around the ocean but deu to human activity the population has drastically decreased, damage that only humans have the ability to reverse.

adult blue whale
Adult blue whale. Image credit: NOAA Photo Library

This blog serves as a view to understand these beautiful Blue Whales better. And also to look into how to save them in their fight against extinction!

Key Points

TopicKey Points
Blue Whale Characteristics– Blue whales are the largest animals on Earth and feed on krill
– They can eat up to 6 tons of krill in one day
– There are five identifiable subspecies of blue whales
Blue Whale Population Decline– The masses of blue whales has significantly decreased due to commercial whaling in the early 1900s
– At present, blue whales are categorized as endangered according to the Endangered Species Act.
Threats to Blue Whales– The main dangers to blue whales are collisions with vessels and getting caught in fishing gear.
– Other threats include ocean noise, habitat degradation, pollution, and climate change
Tour Operators for Whale Watching– Experience Giants offers tours in Timor Leste, Tonga, La Reunion, and the Dominican Republic
– Whale Watching Akureyri is based in North Iceland and has a high sighting success rate
– Natural World Safaris provides opportunities to travel and dive with blue whales in Sri Lanka
Appearance and Behavior of Blue Whales– Blue whales are blue in color and can reach lengths of up to 110 feet and weigh more than 330,000 pounds
– They swim alone or in pairs and migrate between feeding and breeding grounds
– Blue whales are among the loudest animals and use vocalizations for communication and navigation
Blue Whale Distribution– Blue whales are found in all oceans except the Arctic
– Their distribution depends on food availability and varies with subspecies
– They have been sighted in the North Atlantic, North Pacific, Gulf of Mexico, Gulf of California, and other areas
Lifespan and Reproduction– Blue whales can live up to 80-90 years on average
– Their gestation period is approximately 10-12 months and calves are nursed for 6-7 months
– They reach sexual maturity between 5-15 years and reproduce during the winter
Threats to Blue Whales– Vessel strikes, entanglement in fishing gear, ocean noise, habitat degradation, pollution, and climate change
Fun Facts about Blue Whales– Blue whales are the largest animals, loudest animals, and can eat up to 12,000 pounds of krill in a day
– They swim at an average speed of 5 miles per hour and can reach speeds of over 20 miles per hour
– Blue whale populations have been severely impacted by whaling but are now protected and recovering
Conservation of Blue Whales– Blue whales are federally listed as endangered species
– International moratorium on whaling has helped protect them
– Ship noise and entangle complications are ongoing concerns
– Awareness and conservation efforts are important for their protection

Brief Overview

YouTube video
This interesting video clip by Natural Geographic also summaries Blue Whale characteristics with great footage.


In the times of today, blue whales stand as the largest known creatures on Earth. Their diet primarily consists of krill, which they filter from immense quantities of seawater through their baleen plates.

Some of the biggest individuals may eat up to 6 tons of krill in 1 day. Blue whales are also found in all oceans except the Arctic Ocean. Moreover, there are currently five identifiable and recognized subspecies of Blue whales around the globe.

Regrettably, the population of blue whales in the world’s oceans has drastically reduced and is currently a mere fraction of its former size, notably diminished due to extensive commercial whaling during the early 1900s.

But, on a more encouraging note: populations are increasing globally. Currently, Blue whales are listed as endangered under the ‘Endangered Species Act’. The primary threats currently facing Blue Whales are vessel strikes and entanglements in fishing gear.

Fortunately, many global Fisheries and its partners are dedicated to conserving and rebuilding many whales populations worldwide. There are many organisations which use a variety of innovative techniques to study, protect, and rescue these endangered animals.

What is most effective is the engagement of our partners within the fishing industries to develop regulations and management plans that foster healthy fisheries and reduce the risk of entanglements, create whale-safe shipping practices, and reduce ocean noise. 

Have you ever wanted to see these Whales in the Wild for yourself?

blue whale
Image credit: Gregory “Slobirdr” Smith

Below are some tour operators we consider worthy of visiting to help you on your quest to see Blue Whales (and other Whales) in the wild!

Experience Giants

Experience Giants is a tour group based in Timor Leste, Tonga, La Reunion and the Dominican Republic! The experience offered by Experience is that one must “be at eye level with the whale”. In fact, the tours allow adventurous explorers to swim with these amazing gentle giants.

Whale Watching Akureyri

‘Whale Watching Akureyri’ is based from Akureyri in North Iceland and has experiences a 100% sighting success in summer 2016 & 2017 & 2018!

Natural World Safaris

Natural World Safaris enable individuals to travel and dive in the warm waters of Sri Lanka with these incredible creatures!

Have you enjoyed reading this blog about the Blue Whales? Read more about the fascinating whales around the world in our other blogs such as: Humpback Whales Sightings , or the ultimate overview for all our whale species!

What do Blue Whales look like?

blue whale
Blue Whale painting. Image credit: Derfotoartist
CharacteristicDescription
SizeLargest animal ever, reaching up to 98 feet (30 m) in length
WeightAdults weigh around 100 to 150 tons
LifespanAverage of 70 to 90 years
FeedingFilter feeder, primarily feeds on krill
VocalizationsKnown for low-frequency, deep “songs”
HeartLargest heart of any known animal, weighing around 1,300 pounds (600 kg)
MigrationUndertakes long-distance migrations, traveling thousands of miles
Conservation StatusEndangered

This species of whales gain their name appropriately for the reason that they are simply a gorgeous blue colour. Besides their amazing colour, their size is what is mostly impressive.

The subspecies of Antarctic Blue Whales typically exhibit greater size compared to other types of blue whales.

For example, in the North Atlantic and North Pacific, blue whales can grow up to about 90 feet, but in the Antarctic, they can reach up to about 110 feet and weigh more than 330,000 pounds.

Like other baleen whales, female blue whales are generally larger than males.

Behaviour and Diet

This whale is known for interesting behaviour which is widely studied by marine biologists and other experts around the world. Occasionally, Blue Whales tend to swim alone or in pairs, although they occasionally form small groups. During summers, they typically feed in the colder, polar waters and embark on extensive migrations toward the warmer Equatorial regions as winter approaches.

These whales typically travel at roughly 5 miles an hour while they feed and travel, however, they can accelerate to more than 20 miles an hour for short bursts of time.

They are also among the loudest animals on the planet, emitting a series of pulses, groans, and moans, and it is thought that in the right oceanographic conditions, blue whales can hear each other up to 1,000 miles away. Scientists think they use these vocalizations to communicate and—along with their excellent hearing—perhaps to sonar-navigate the dark ocean depths.

Blue whales primarily favor krill, which are small, shrimp-like creatures, as their main dietary choice. On occasion, they might also consume fish and copepods, tiny crustaceans, as part of their diet.

When blue whales hunt for food, they filter feed by swimming toward big groups of krill with their mouths wide open to catch them, thereafter, deluging water they expel it from their mouths using their tongue while retaining the krill ensnared within their baleen plates.

Where do Blue Whales Live?

blue whale
Whale in pacific ocean, California. Image credit: Myriamdc

Most Blue whales inhabit all oceans except the Arctic. They typically undergo seasonal migrations, moving between summer feeding areas and winter breeding grounds. However, some indications propose variations in behavior among individuals in specific regions.

Their location preferences also depend on the subspecies of Blue Whale, however, details regarding distribution and movement differ depending on the location, and migratory paths remain relatively unclear. Generally, their distribution is heavily influenced by the availability of food, primarily favoring areas where krill is abundant.

In the North Atlantic Ocean, the Blue Whales range extends from the subtropics to the Greenland Sea. Blue whales have been sighted in the waters off  the coast of Eastern Canada, in the shelf waters of the Eastern United States, and infrequently in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. 


In addition, Eastern North Pacific Blue Whales are thought to migrate to the regions near Mexico and Central America during winters along the West Coast of the United States. During summers, they are believed to feed primarily off the U.S. West Coast and, to a lesser degree, in the Gulf of Alaska and central North Pacific waters.

Blue whales with young calves are regularly observed in the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez) from December through March. Thus,  it is believed that; this area is likely an important calving and nursing area for the species.

A presumed “resident” group of Blue Whales resides in the Northern Indian Ocean. Sightings, instances of strandings, and acoustic detections of these whales have been documented in the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, and throughout the Bay of Bengal. However, their migratory behaviors largely remain a mystery but are believed to be driven by oceanographic changes associated with monsoons.

Antarctic Blue Whales are predominantly found in the Southern Hemisphere, primarily inhabiting high latitude waters below the “Antarctic Convergence” and near the ice edge during summer. In winter, these whales typically migrate to middle and low latitude regions, although not all of them undertake this migration annually.

Pygmy blue whales are typically distributed north of the Antarctic Convergence and are most abundant in waters off Australia, Madagascar, and New Zealand. An unnamed subspecies of blue whale is found in the South Eastern Pacific Ocean, particularly in the Chiloense Ecoregion, and migrates to lower latitude areas, including the Galapagos Islands and the eastern tropical Pacific.

Lifespan and Reproduction of Blue Whales

blue whale
Large Blue Whale Off Southern California Coast. Image credit: Don Ramey Logan

These whales are among Earth’s longest-lived animals (believed to have been around in some later prehistoric ages). Their average lifespan is estimated at around 80 to 90 years and  Scientists estimate their age by counting the layers of waxlike earplugs collected from deceased whales. 

Scientists know very little about the life history of the Blue Whale. Recent studies indicate their pregnancies last around 10 to 12 months, followed by nursing of the calves for about 6 to 7 months.

Weaning likely happens either during the journey to or at the summer feeding sites in equatorial ocean regions. These whales typically reach sexual maturity between 5 and 15 years old, with most breeding activities, including births and mating, occurring in winter. On average, they tend to give birth every 2 to 3 years.

Current Threats to Blue Whales

whale
Image credit: National Marine Sanctuaries

Unfortunately, these whales have become subject to many threats which they cannot protect themselves from every single day. Due to the cruelty and inconsideration of humankind, their sharp drop in population numbers is largely our fault. Most action needs to take place internally in the fishing organisations.

Threats include:

Vessel Strikes

Vessel strikes can injure or even kill blue whales. Vessel strikes refer to the collision of whales in the ocean with these massive ships. These strikes have killed blue whales throughout their age range, but the risk is evidently much higher in some coastal areas with heavy vessel traffic. It is therefore, up to any shipping authority and industry to pay more attention into not striking these animals in the ocean en route their destination.

Entanglement

Whales, all kinds, can become entangled in fishing gear, either swimming off with the gear attached to their fins or becoming anchored down and drowning. Blue whales can become entangled in many different gear types, including traps and fishing nets.

When whales become entangled in gear, they might pull and swim with it over extended distances, leading to exhaustion, impaired feeding, or serious injuries. These issues can affect their ability to reproduce, potentially resulting in reduced success in reproduction and, ultimately, their demise.

This form of threat towards whales is utterly inexcusable, it is important that fisheries are held accountable for responsible fishing practices and dispose of their unwanted fishing nets properly.

Additional Threats

Additional threats include ocean noise (this can disturb the communication between whales and even disturb their navigation which they use through their echolocation characteristics), habitat degradation (fewer krill being available to feed on etc.) , pollution , vessel disturbance, and long-term changes in the climate.

It is the responsibility of humans to rectify this wrong doing and raise awareness for these amazing animals. 

Fun Facts About Blue Whales

1. These whales are the biggest animals ever known, reaching lengths of up to 110 feet (33.5 meters) and weights of 330,000 pounds (150 metric tons).

2. On average, these whales have a lifespan of around 80 to 90 years.

3. Blue whales, being the loudest creatures, produce sounds audible to other blue whales within a range of up to 1,000 miles.

4. In a single day, these whales consume as much as 12,000 pounds (5.4 metric tons) of krill.

5. Blue whales typically swim at an average speed of 5 miles per hour but can reach speeds of over 20 miles per hour in short bursts.

6. It’s thought that a blue whale’s tongue weighs about 8,000 pounds (3,600 kilograms). It would weigh more than a female Asian elephant!

7. Its poo is described as smelling like a dog’s, with the consistency of bread crumbs- this whale can excrete up to 200 litres of poo in one bowel movement.

8. They mainly catch their food by diving, and descend to depths of approximately 500 m.

9. These whales have few predators but are known to fall victim to attacks by sharks and killer whales, and many are injured or die each year from impacts with large ships.

10. Despite being a deep-water predator, this whale, like other mammals, needs to surface to breathe. When it emerges, it releases air through a blowhole, creating a pressurized vapor cloud that can rise vertically above the water, reaching heights of up to 9 meters.

Conservation of Blue Whales

blue whale
Image credit: Peter van der Sluijs

These Whales are sadly now federally listed as endangered animals. Blue whales, once plentiful, suffered a drastic decline due to advancements in whaling technology, particularly with the introduction of factory ships.

They now benefit from international protection via a whaling moratorium, resulting in a gradual population increase. While human-related issues like ship noise, entanglement, and collisions affect them in busy areas, these occurrences are becoming rarer. The implications of climate change on blue whales and their marine environment remain uncertain.

However, what is important to keep them protected is to continue creating awareness for them. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What is the average size of a blue whale?
A: Blue whales are the largest animals on Earth. On average, they can reach lengths of around 80 to 90 feet (24 to 27 meters) and weigh approximately 150 metric tons (330,000 pounds). However, Antarctic blue whales can be even larger, reaching lengths of up to 110 feet (33.5 meters).

Q: Where can blue whales be found?
A: Blue whales can be found in all oceans except the Arctic Ocean. Their distribution depends on the subspecies, but they generally migrate seasonally between summer feeding grounds and winter breeding grounds. They occur in areas where krill, their primary food source, is concentrated.

Q: What do blue whales eat?
A: Blue whales are filter feeders that primarily feed on krill, which are small shrimp-like animals. They swim toward large schools of krill with their mouths open, and then they push the water out of their mouths while keeping the krill trapped inside their baleen plates. Occasionally, blue whales may also consume fish and copepods.

Q: How long can blue whales live?
A: Blue whales are among the longest-lived animals on Earth. Their average lifespan is estimated to be around 80 to 90 years. Scientists estimate their age by counting the layers of wax-like earplugs collected from deceased whales.

Q: Are blue whales endangered?
A: Yes, blue whales are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Their population numbers declined significantly due to commercial whaling during the early 1900s. However, conservation efforts, including a global moratorium on whaling, have helped their populations recover to some extent.

Q: What are the main threats to blue whales?
A: Blue whales face several threats, including vessel strikes, entanglement in fishing gear, ocean noise, habitat degradation, pollution, and long-term climate changes. Vessel strikes and entanglement in fishing gear are among the most significant threats to their survival.

Q: How can we help conserve blue whales?
A: There are several ways to contribute to the conservation of blue whales. Supporting responsible fishing practices, raising awareness about the threats they face, advocating for regulations that protect their habitats, and reducing ocean noise pollution are all important steps. Additionally, supporting organizations dedicated to the study, protection, and rescue of these endangered animals can make a difference.

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