Blue Whale Photo

Photos of the Blue Whale, Balaenoptera musculus, the largest animal ever to inhabit Earth
See also:     More Blue Whale Photos

The blue whale, Balaenoptera musculus, is the largest animal ever to have lived on Earth. Depending on which expert is cited, blue whales once attained lengths of 100 to 120 feet (32 meters) and have weighed up to 160 tons (145 metric tonnes). Blue whales are found throughout the worlds oceans. Estimates put their worldwide population at approximately 10% that of prewhaling size, and blue whales are listed as endangered throughout their range. The population of blue whales in the Southern Ocean was hunted especially hard.
A huge blue whale swims through the open ocean in this underwater photograph.  The blue whale is the largest animal ever to live on Earth, Balaenoptera musculus, copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #03027, all rights reserved worldwide. Blue whale, adult and juvenile (likely mother and calf), swimming together side by side underwater in the open ocean, Balaenoptera musculus, copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #01964, all rights reserved worldwide. Blue whale fluking up (raising its tail) before a dive to forage for krill,  Baja California (Mexico), Balaenoptera musculus, copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #03332, all rights reserved worldwide.
Blue whale photo, A huge blue whale swims through the open ocean in this underwater photograph. The blue whale is the largest animal ever to live on Earth, Balaenoptera musculus, Image 03027 Blue whale photo, Blue whale, adult and juvenile (likely mother and calf), swimming together side by side underwater in the open ocean, Balaenoptera musculus, Image 01964 Blue whale photo, Blue whale fluking up (raising its tail) before a dive to forage for krill, Baja California (Mexico), Balaenoptera musculus, Image 03332
Blue whale, swimming through the open ocean, Balaenoptera musculus, copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #21248, all rights reserved worldwide. Blue whale, raising fluke prior to diving for food, fluking up, lifting tail as it swims in the open ocean foraging, Balaenoptera musculus, copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #16177, all rights reserved worldwide.
Blue whale photo, Blue whale, swimming through the open ocean, Balaenoptera musculus, Image 21248 Blue whale photo, Blue whale, raising fluke prior to diving for food, fluking up, lifting tail as it swims in the open ocean foraging, Balaenoptera musculus, Image 16177
Two blue whales, a mother and her calf, swim through the open ocean in this aerial photograph.  The calf is blowing (spouting, exhaling) with a powerful column of spray.  The blue whale is the largest animal ever to live on Earth, Balaenoptera musculus, copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #02304, all rights reserved worldwide. A huge blue whale swims through the open ocean in this aerial photograph.  The blue whale is the largest animal ever to live on Earth, Balaenoptera musculus, copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #02169, all rights reserved worldwide. Adult blue whale surfacing,  Baja California (Mexico), Balaenoptera musculus, copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #03380, all rights reserved worldwide.
Blue whale photo, Two blue whales, a mother and her calf, swim through the open ocean in this aerial photograph. The calf is blowing (spouting, exhaling) with a powerful column of spray. The blue whale is the largest animal ever to live on Earth, Balaenoptera musculus, Image 02304 Blue whale photo, A huge blue whale swims through the open ocean in this aerial photograph. The blue whale is the largest animal ever to live on Earth, Balaenoptera musculus, Image 02169 Blue whale photo, Adult blue whale surfacing, Baja California (Mexico), Balaenoptera musculus, Image 03380
Two of the images above show blue whale pairs likely composed of a mother with calf/subadult. Blue whale calves will accompany their mothers for approximately a year before being weaned. Female blue whales are larger than males, an adaptation enabling a mother to cope with the physical demands of calving and nursing.
Blue whale surfacing, Isla Coronado del Norte in background,  Baja California (Mexico), Balaenoptera musculus, Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado), copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #03342, all rights reserved worldwide. A blue whale spouts at sunset.  The blow, or spout, of a blue whale can reach 30 feet into the air.  The blue whale is the largest animal ever to live on earth, Balaenoptera musculus, copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #02217, all rights reserved worldwide. Adult blue whale surfacing,  Baja California (Mexico), Balaenoptera musculus, copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #03381, all rights reserved worldwide.
Blue whale photo, Blue whale surfacing, Isla Coronado del Norte in background, Baja California (Mexico), Balaenoptera musculus, Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado), Image 03342 Blue whale photo, A blue whale spouts at sunset. The blow, or spout, of a blue whale can reach 30 feet into the air. The blue whale is the largest animal ever to live on earth, Balaenoptera musculus, Image 02217 Blue whale photo, Adult blue whale surfacing, Baja California (Mexico), Balaenoptera musculus, Image 03381
Blue whale blows, emitted from a blue whale's twin blowholes as it breathes at the ocean's surface, can reach 30' into the air and can be seen and heard for miles.
Blue whale, blowhole open, Balaenoptera musculus, copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #02179, all rights reserved worldwide. Blue whale fluke, powerful tail that propels the huge whale through the open ocean, Balaenoptera musculus, copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #01911, all rights reserved worldwide. Blue whale, the largest animal ever to inhabit earth, swims through the open ocean, underwater view, Balaenoptera musculus, copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #01902, all rights reserved worldwide.
Blue whale photo, Blue whale, blowhole open, Balaenoptera musculus, Image 02179 Blue whale photo, Blue whale fluke, powerful tail that propels the huge whale through the open ocean, Balaenoptera musculus, Image 01911 Blue whale photo, Blue whale, the largest animal ever to inhabit earth, swims through the open ocean, underwater view, Balaenoptera musculus, Image 01902
Blue whale, the largest animal ever to inhabit earth, swims through the open ocean, raising fluke (tail) before making a deep dive, Balaenoptera musculus, copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #02226, all rights reserved worldwide. Blue whale fluking up before a dive,  Baja California (Mexico), Balaenoptera musculus, copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #03337, all rights reserved worldwide. Blue whale, lifting fluke before diving, Baja California, Balaenoptera musculus, copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #03043, all rights reserved worldwide.
Blue whale photo, Blue whale, the largest animal ever to inhabit earth, swims through the open ocean, raising fluke (tail) before making a deep dive, Balaenoptera musculus, Image 02226 Blue whale photo, Blue whale fluking up before a dive, Baja California (Mexico), Balaenoptera musculus, Image 03337 Blue whale photo, Blue whale, lifting fluke before diving, Baja California, Balaenoptera musculus, Image 03043
Blue whale fluke,  Baja California (Mexico), Balaenoptera musculus, copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #03339, all rights reserved worldwide. Blue whale, caudal stem, fluke with median notch, Balaenoptera musculus, copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #02220, all rights reserved worldwide. An enormous blue whale raises its fluke (tail) high out of the water before diving.  Open ocean offshore of San Diego, Balaenoptera musculus, copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #07519, all rights reserved worldwide.
Blue whale photo, Blue whale fluke, Baja California (Mexico), Balaenoptera musculus, Image 03339 Blue whale photo, Blue whale, caudal stem, fluke with median notch, Balaenoptera musculus, Image 02220 Blue whale photo, An enormous blue whale raises its fluke (tail) high out of the water before diving. Open ocean offshore of San Diego, Balaenoptera musculus, Image 07519
Blue whales can swim fast, with bursts up to 20 knots. Long and streamlined, they are capable of sustaining speeds of 5 to 10 knots while traveling or foraging for food. Enormous muscles in a blue whale's caudal flanks and peduncle power its wide flukes up and down.
Blue whale photo. Blue whale photo.
Blue whales often raise their flukes high out of the water as they begin a steep dive.
Blue whale, dorsal aspect of caudal stem,  Baja California (Mexico), Balaenoptera musculus, copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #03330, all rights reserved worldwide. Blue whale, dorsal aspect of caudal stem,  Baja California (Mexico), Balaenoptera musculus, copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #03340, all rights reserved worldwide. Blue whale surfacing, dorsal fin,  Baja California (Mexico), Balaenoptera musculus, copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #03344, all rights reserved worldwide.
Blue whale photo, Blue whale, dorsal aspect of caudal stem, Baja California (Mexico), Balaenoptera musculus, Image 03330 Blue whale photo, Blue whale, dorsal aspect of caudal stem, Baja California (Mexico), Balaenoptera musculus, Image 03340 Blue whale photo, Blue whale surfacing, dorsal fin, Baja California (Mexico), Balaenoptera musculus, Image 03344
An enormous blue whale rounds out (hunches up its back) before diving.  Note the distinctive mottled skin pattern and small, falcate dorsal fin. Open ocean offshore of San Diego, Balaenoptera musculus, copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #07527, all rights reserved worldwide. The splashguard of this approaching blue whale pushes water aside so that it can open its blowholes  (which are just behind the splashguard) to breathe.  Open ocean offshore of San Diego, Balaenoptera musculus, copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #07520, all rights reserved worldwide. Blue whale, exhaling, note splashguard foreward of blowholes, Baja California, Balaenoptera musculus, copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #03045, all rights reserved worldwide.
Blue whale photo, An enormous blue whale rounds out (hunches up its back) before diving. Note the distinctive mottled skin pattern and small, falcate dorsal fin. Open ocean offshore of San Diego, Balaenoptera musculus, Image 07527 Blue whale photo, The splashguard of this approaching blue whale pushes water aside so that it can open its blowholes (which are just behind the splashguard) to breathe. Open ocean offshore of San Diego, Balaenoptera musculus, Image 07520 Blue whale photo, Blue whale, exhaling, note splashguard foreward of blowholes, Baja California, Balaenoptera musculus, Image 03045
Blue whales are most easily identified by their huge size, tall blows (up to 30 feet high), blue/gray mottled skin color, and typically rounded (falcate) dorsal fin. Skin pigment patterns along the dorsal ridge, near the dorsal fin, are photographed by scientists in order to identify individual whales. The tips of a blue whale's fluke are rather pointed, and the trailing edge of the fluke is usually smooth and straight with a median notch. Blue whales are closely related to fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus), which are also huge, but the body of a blue whale is mottled and lighter in color and its dorsal fin is not as tall and pronounced as that of the fin whale. Also, the right lip and baleen plate of the fin whale is light colored and the underside of its body is white. (Blue and fin whales are thought to occasionally interbreed (Calambokidis)). Seen from a distance, blue whales resting or swimming just below the surface appear to be large sandbars.
An enormous blue whale is stretched out at the surface, resting, breathing and slowly swimming, during a break between feeding dives. Open ocean offshore of San Diego, Balaenoptera musculus, copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #07534, all rights reserved worldwide. An enormous blue whale swims in front of whale watchers on a private yacht.  Only a small portion of the whale, which dwarfs the boat and may be 70 feet or more in length, can be seen. Open ocean offshore of San Diego, Balaenoptera musculus, copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #07541, all rights reserved worldwide. A blue whale blows (spouts) just as it surfaces after spending time at depth in search of food.  Open ocean offshore of San Diego, Balaenoptera musculus, copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #07544, all rights reserved worldwide.
Blue whale photo, An enormous blue whale is stretched out at the surface, resting, breathing and slowly swimming, during a break between feeding dives. Open ocean offshore of San Diego, Balaenoptera musculus, Image 07534 Blue whale photo, An enormous blue whale swims in front of whale watchers on a private yacht. Only a small portion of the whale, which dwarfs the boat and may be 70 feet or more in length, can be seen. Open ocean offshore of San Diego, Balaenoptera musculus, Image 07541 Blue whale photo, A blue whale blows (spouts) just as it surfaces after spending time at depth in search of food. Open ocean offshore of San Diego, Balaenoptera musculus, Image 07544
Pelagic red tuna crab, open ocean, Pleuroncodes planipes, copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #02247, all rights reserved worldwide. Pelagic red tuna crabs, Coronado Islands, Pleuroncodes planipes, Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado), copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #02353, all rights reserved worldwide. Krill, Baja California (Pacific Ocean), Thysanoessa spinifera, copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #03117, all rights reserved worldwide.
Blue whale photo, Pelagic red tuna crab, open ocean, Pleuroncodes planipes, Image 02247 Blue whale photo, Pelagic red tuna crabs, Coronado Islands, Pleuroncodes planipes, Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado), Image 02353 Blue whale photo, Krill, Baja California (Pacific Ocean), Thysanoessa spinifera, Image 03117
What does a huge blue whale eat? Tons (literally) of tiny euphasiid krill, such as Thysanoessa spinifera (right). Blue whales are also known to feed on aggregations of pelagic red crabs Pleuroncodes planipes (left and center).
Blue whales surfacing,  Baja California (Mexico), Balaenoptera musculus, copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #03348, all rights reserved worldwide. Blue whale, the large animal ever to live on earth, underwater view in the open ocean, Balaenoptera musculus, copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #05814, all rights reserved worldwide.
Blue whale photo, Blue whales surfacing, Baja California (Mexico), Balaenoptera musculus, Image 03348 Blue whale photo. Blue whale photo, Blue whale, the large animal ever to live on earth, underwater view in the open ocean, Balaenoptera musculus, Image 05814
Scientists estimate that the largest blue ever to have lived probably weighed more than 200 tons -- 400,000 pounds -- and was more massive than an entire herd of thirty African elephants. A truly impressive beast, indeed. Blue whales dwarf even the largest dinosaurs, being nearly twice the size of the largest prehistoric land dweller Brachiosaurus. A small child could crawl through the chambers of a blue whale's immense heart, or out one of its twin blowholes. Scientific accounts cite individual blue whales nearly 100 feet in length while less reliable whaling records reported giants up to 110 feet long. The largest subspecies of blue whale, intermedia, inhabits Antarctic regions while the slightly smaller musculus is found in northern hemisphere oceans.
Blue whale, lifting fluke before diving, Baja California, Balaenoptera musculus, copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #03040, all rights reserved worldwide.
Blue whale photo, Blue whale, lifting fluke before diving, Baja California, Balaenoptera musculus, Image 03040
Blue whale photo. Blue whale photo. Blue whale photo.
Look closely at the above fluke, it has several identifying features that allow it to be recognized by researchers: orca or shark bites, a hole and a missing left tip.
Blue whale dorsal flank and remora, Balaenoptera musculus, copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #01907, all rights reserved worldwide.
Blue whale photo, Blue whale dorsal flank and remora, Balaenoptera musculus, Image 01907
Dorsal flank showing characteristic mottled skin patterns. This particular blue whale, observed in northern Mexico, also has a few dozen remora probably acquired in warmer waters to the south.
Blue whales: mother/calf pair w/ adult,  Baja California (Mexico), Balaenoptera musculus, copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #03369, all rights reserved worldwide. Four blue whales (including calf) socializing,  Baja California (Mexico), Balaenoptera musculus, copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #03357, all rights reserved worldwide. Blue whales: mother/calf pair w/ adult,  Baja California (Mexico), Balaenoptera musculus, copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #03354, all rights reserved worldwide.
Blue whale photo, Blue whales: mother/calf pair w/ adult, Baja California (Mexico), Balaenoptera musculus, Image 03369 Blue whale photo, Four blue whales (including calf) socializing, Baja California (Mexico), Balaenoptera musculus, Image 03357 Blue whale photo, Blue whales: mother/calf pair w/ adult, Baja California (Mexico), Balaenoptera musculus, Image 03354
Do blue whales socialize? Of course! But how they find one another across miles of ocean, what brings them together, and what they do when in one another's company is still largely a mystery. Researchers around the world are gradually coming to understand the life of this greatest of whales through direct observation, remote sensing with satellite tags, and by eavesdropping on whale vocalizations with sophisticated hydrophones.
Blue whales: adult pair (upper left), mother/calf pair (lower right),  Baja California (Mexico), Balaenoptera musculus, copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #03351, all rights reserved worldwide. Adult blue whale surfacing, rounding out prior to dive,  Baja California (Mexico), Balaenoptera musculus, copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #03379, all rights reserved worldwide. Blue whale, Balaenoptera musculus, copyright Phillip Colla Natural History Photography, www.oceanlight.com, image #01899, all rights reserved worldwide.
Blue whale photo, Blue whales: adult pair (upper left), mother/calf pair (lower right), Baja California (Mexico), Balaenoptera musculus, Image 03351 Blue whale photo, Adult blue whale surfacing, rounding out prior to dive, Baja California (Mexico), Balaenoptera musculus, Image 03379 Blue whale photo, Balaenoptera musculus, Image 01899
All of the above photographs are of blue whales in the eastern North Pacific stock, a population that ranges from Baja California to at least as north as Oregon. Whales from this stock are often seen migrating north along the Pacific coast in spring and summer, typically stopping near Point Conception or the Farallon Islands to feed on aggregations of krill in August and September. For more information about blue whales, read Blue Whales by John Calambokidis and Gretchen Steiger, Voyageur Press; ISBN: 0896583384.

See also:     tuna crabs    euphausiid krill
Keywords: blue whale photo, blue whale photos, blue whale photograph, blue whale picture, photo, underwater, picture, Balaenoptera musculus, aerial, photography, photograph, calf, baby, spout, tail, fluke, blowhole, image

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Updated: February 25, 2017