Galapagos Blue Whale Facts
Name: Galapagos Blue Whale
Scientific Name: Balaenoptera musculus
Length: up to 33 meters (110 feet)
Weight: 200 tons
Adult Length: 24 - 30 m (78 - 107 ft)
Blow: Largest of all: an enormous vertical column up to 10 m tall
Breaching: Only young known to breach, usually at 45° angle
Deep dive: Sometimes raises tail flukes
Group size: 1 - 2, sometimes more when feeding
Category: Rorqual Whales
All 6 of the world's species or Rorqual whales have been recorded in Galapagos. The rorqual whales are large to very large, and include the biggest animals on earth. They differ from all other cetaceans in the region because they do not possess teeth. Instead, their upper jaws are lined with bony 'comb-like' plates called baleen which filter out small fish or zooplankton as the whale engulfs enormous quantities of seawater whilst swimming along. Rorquals have a double blowhole (single in toothed cetaceans), placed centrally on top of the head, a pleated throat capable of great expansion whilst feeding, a 'U'- to 'V'-shaped flattened head and a streamlined body for fast swimming.
The Blue Whale is the largest animal on the planet, but its size is not the easiest feature with which to distinguish it. Instead, concentrate on surfacing sequence, fin size, and coloration. Confusion is most likely with the Fin Whale but on surfacing a Blue Whale exhales an even larger blow. The head then disappears to reveal a long rolling back before, finally, a tiny, stubby dorsal fin appears just before the animal sinks below the surface. Body color is bluish-grey but, unlike Fin Whale, it is usually covered with pale mottling.