How many people can fit inside a blue whale’s mouth?
The answer is 100, give or take a few for social distancing. In this 6-minute video, whale expert Professor Tracey Rogers, discusses dining, whale-style.
The blue whale is a baleen whale, like the humpback and right whales.
Their eating habits are a little like dinner with great-Grandpa – no teeth required.
Baleen whales derive their name from the sieve-like baleen that grow down from the roof of their enormous mouths. The baleen are made from a keratinous material, similar to our hair and fingernails.
The whale approaches a krill school from below at speeds of up to 37kmph. It opens it’s enormous mouth which sucks in tons of krill, sieving the water out through the baleens.
This is high-energy hunting that requires a catch of 500,000 calories a day to be worth the energy expenditure for the whale. That is a lot of krill.
Sadly, due to environmental degradation and over-fishing, our planet’s stock of Antarctic krill has diminished by 80% in the last 30 years.
That leaves not enough to support a healthy blue whale population which, even decades after hunting has ended, is still critically endangered, at just 3% of the pre-hunt population.
We can all help whales survive. Subscribe to the Gowings Whale Trust to become part of a larger network of folks who care about our amazing marine mammals.