Where Are the Largest Animals Found?
Blue whales are the largest living animals. They are cosmopolitan creatures and are found in most of the seas, from the polar caps to the equator. Normally those which inhabit the colder seas will migrate to warmer waters in winter. Their dimensions are almost beyond belief.
Although figures can never be quite accurate, a blue whale can weigh more than 200 short tons and many have been found measuring over 100 feet in length. The tongue alone, of a female whale found in Antarctica, weighed well over 03 short tons. It has been estimated that in the 1930s there were nearly 40,000 blue whales in the world.
But by the end of the 1960s there were fewer than 1,000 alive. This was because they became popular victims for the misdirected efforts of over- zealous hunters. A 2002 report estimated there were 5,000 to 12,000 blue whales worldwide, in at least five groups. The IUCN estimates that there are probably between 10,000 and 25,000 blue whales worldwide today. Before whaling, the largest population was in the Antarctic, numbering approximately 239,000 (range 202,000 to 311,000).
There remain only much smaller (around 2,000) concentrations in each of the eastern North Pacific, Antarctic, and Indian Ocean groups. There are two more groups in the North Atlantic, and at least two in the Southern Hemisphere. As of 2014, the Eastern North Pacific blue whale population has rebounded to nearly its pre-hunting population.
Blue whales are difficult to weigh because of their size. They were never weighed whole, but cut into blocks 0.5–0.6 meters (1.6–2 ft) across and weighed by parts. This caused a considerable loss of blood and body fluids, estimated to be about 6% of the total weight. As a whole, blue whales from the Northern Atlantic and Pacific are smaller on average than those from Antarctic waters.
Adult weights typically range from 73–136 tonnes (80–150 short tons). There is some uncertainty about the biggest blue whale ever found, as most data came from blue whales killed in Antarctic waters during the first half of the twentieth century, which were collected by whalers not well-versed in standard zoological measurement techniques.
The standard measuring technique is to measure in a straight line from the upper jaw to the notch in the tail flukes. This came about because the edges of the tail flukes were typically cut off, and the lower jaw often falls open upon death.