Blue whale underwater closeup photo.  This picture of a blue whale, the largest animal ever to inhabit earth, shows it swimming through the open ocean, a rare underwater view.  Since this blue whale was approximately 80-90' long and just a few feet from the camera, an extremely wide lens was used to photograph the entire enormous whale, Balaenoptera musculus

Blue whale close-up underwater portrait, taken breath-hold diving just a few feet away from the enormous blue whale with a fisheye lens.

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, San Diego, California

Blue Whale Aerial 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. Balaenoptera musculus.

Blue whale, exhaling as it surfaces from a dive, aerial photo.  The blue whale is the largest animal ever to have lived on Earth, exceeding 100' in length and 200 tons in weight, Balaenoptera musculus, Redondo Beach, California

Aerial photo of a blue whale. Blue whale, exhaling as it surfaces from a dive, aerial photo taken off the coast of California.

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

Blue whale underwater photo. A huge blue whale swims through the open ocean in this underwater photograph, Balaenoptera musculus, Mexico.

Blue whales feeding on krill underwater closeup photo.  A picture of a blue whale with its throat pleats inflated with a mouthful of krill. A calf swims behind and below the adult. Over 80' long and just a few feet from the camera, an extremely wide lens was used to photograph the entire enormous whale, Balaenoptera musculus

Blue whales (mother and calf) underwater feeding, the adult blue whale's throat is inflated after engulfing a huge mouthful of krill.

Blue whale 80-feet long, full body photograph of an enormous blue whale showing rostrom head to fluke tail, taken at close range with very wide lens, Balaenoptera musculus, San Diego, California

Blue whale 80-feet long. Kapow now that's a photo!

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 underwater photo showing entire whale head (rostrum) to tail (fluke).  This picture of a blue whale shows it swimming through the open ocean, a rare underwater view.  Specialized underwater camera gear, including an extremely wide lens, was used to capture the entire enormous whale in a single photograph, Balaenoptera musculus

Portrait of a huge adult blue whale in the open ocean, head to tail (rostrum to fluke), only a few feet away, showing detail in its eye, lips and throat pleats and skin pattern.

Blue whale skeleton in Antarctica, on the shore at Port Lockroy, Antarctica.  This skeleton is composed primarily of blue whale bones, but there are believed to be bones of other baleen whales included in the skeleton as well, Balaenoptera musculus

Blue whale skeleton in Antarctica, on the shore at Port Lockroy, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica.

Blue whale, swimming through the open ocean, Balaenoptera musculus, La Jolla, California

Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) surfacing, aerial photo, near La Jolla, California.

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.

Blue whale. The sleek hydrodynamic shape of the enormous blue whale allows it to swim swiftly through the ocean, at times over one hundred miles in a single day, Balaenoptera musculus, La Jolla, California

Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) surfacing with blowhole closed tight. The upper jawbone of the blue whale, which is the largest bone in the animal kingdom, forms the leading edge shape of the whale. Balaenoptera musculus,

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

A huge blue whale swims through the open ocean in this aerial photograph. Balaenoptera musculus.

Blue whale aerial photo, with the shadow of the survey plane providing scale as to how huge the whale really is, Balaenoptera musculus

Blue whale aerial photo, with the shadow of the survey plane providing scale as to how huge the whale really is. Balaenoptera musculus.

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 fluking up (raising its tail) before a dive to forage for krill,  Baja California (Mexico), Balaenoptera musculus

Blue whale fluking up (raising its tail) before a dive to forage for krill, Baja California (Mexico). Balaenoptera musculus.

Blue whale, exhaling as it surfaces from a dive, aerial photo.  The blue whale is the largest animal ever to have lived on Earth, exceeding 100' in length and 200 tons in weight, Balaenoptera musculus, Redondo Beach, California

Blue whale, exhaling as it surfaces from a dive, aerial photo, off the coast of California not far from Los Angeles.

Blue whale and San Onofre Nuclear Power generating station, raising fluke prior to diving for food, fluking up, lifting its tail as it swims in the open ocean foraging for food, Balaenoptera musculus, Dana Point, California

A blue whale flukes up (raises its tail) as it prepares to dive underwater, with the San Onofre nuclear power plant in the background.

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.

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

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, exhaling as it surfaces from a dive, aerial photo.  The blue whale is the largest animal ever to have lived on Earth, exceeding 100' in length and 200 tons in weight, Balaenoptera musculus, Redondo Beach, California

Blue whale, exhaling as it surfaces from a dive, aerial photo. Redondo Beach, California. Balaenoptera musculus.

Blue whale, exhaling in a huge blow as it swims at the surface between deep dives.  The blue whale's blow is a combination of water spray from around its blowhole and condensation from its warm breath, Balaenoptera musculus, La Jolla, California

Blue whale, exhaling in a huge blow as it swims at the surface between deep dives. The blue whale's blow is a combination of water spray from around its blowhole and condensation from its warm breath.

Blue whale underwater closeup photo.  This incredible picture of a blue whale, the largest animal ever to inhabit earth, shows it swimming through the open ocean, a rare underwater view, Balaenoptera musculus

A closeup view of a huge blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) in the open ocean, miles from shore.

Blue whale underwater closeup photo.  This incredible picture of a blue whale, the largest animal ever to inhabit earth, shows it swimming through the open ocean, a rare underwater view, Balaenoptera musculus

A blue whale's rostrum, hydrodynamic and efficient, it leads the way as the world's largest animal swims gracefully through the open ocean.

Blue whale swims at the surface of the ocean in this aerial photograph.  The blue whale is the largest animal ever to have lived on Earth, exceeding 100' in length and 200 tons in weight, Balaenoptera musculus, Redondo Beach, California

Blue whale swims at the surface of the ocean in this aerial photograph. Balaenoptera musculus.

Blue whale, exhaling as it surfaces from a dive, aerial photo.  The blue whale is the largest animal ever to have lived on Earth, exceeding 100' in length and 200 tons in weight, Balaenoptera musculus, Redondo Beach, California

Aerial photo of blue whale, Los Angeles, California.

Blue whale, exhaling in a huge blow as it swims at the surface between deep dives.  The blue whale's blow is a combination of water spray from around its blowhole and condensation from its warm breath, Balaenoptera musculus, La Jolla, California

Two blue whales swimming at the surface, one is blowing a spout (combination of water and condensation), aerial view in the Pacific Ocean near San Diego.

Blue whale fluke, powerful tail that propels the huge whale through the open ocean, Balaenoptera musculus

Underwater photo of a blue whale fluke, the powerful tail that propels the huge whale through the open ocean. The caudal muscles that power the fluke up and down are the most powerful muscles in the animal kingdom. Balaenoptera musculus.

Blue whale, the largest animal ever to live on earth, underwater view in the open ocean, Balaenoptera musculus

Blue whale, the largest animal ever to live on earth, underwater view in the open ocean. Balaenoptera musculus.

Blue whale feeding on krill underwater closeup photo.  A picture of a blue whale with its throat pleats inflated with a mouthful of krill, Balaenoptera musculus

A blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) underwater with its mouth open as it feeds on krill.

Blue whale, raising fluke prior to diving for food, fluking up, lifting tail as it swims in the open ocean foraging for food, Balaenoptera musculus, Dana Point, California

Sea water falls from the raised fluke (tail) of an enormous blue whale as it dives below the sea to forage for food.

Blue whale, adult and juvenile (likely mother and calf), swimming together side by side underwater in the open ocean, Balaenoptera musculus

An underwater photo of two blue whale, likely a mother with calf or 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, the largest animal ever to inhabit earth, swims through the open ocean, underwater view, Balaenoptera musculus

Underwater photo of a blue whale, Balaenoptera musculus, the largest animal ever to inhabit earth, swims through the open ocean, in this underwater photograph.

Blue whale fluking.  An enormous blue whale raises its powerful fluke (tail) high out of the water as it makes a steep dive into the open ocean, Balaenoptera musculus, La Jolla, California

Blue Whale, La Jolla

Blue whale, raising fluke prior to diving for food, fluking up, lifting tail as it swims in the open ocean foraging, Balaenoptera musculus, San Diego, California

Blue Whale, San Diego

Blue whale, exhaling in a huge blow as it swims at the surface between deep dives.  The blue whale's blow is a combination of water spray from around its blowhole and condensation from its warm breath, Balaenoptera musculus, La Jolla, California

Blue whales, one exhaling in a giant blow, aerial photo, La Jolla.

A blue whale eating krill.  This blue whale is seen feeding and surfacing amid krill with its throat fully engorged with krill and water.  It will push the water back out with its tongue, trapping the krill in its baleen which acts like a filter. Aerial photo, Baja California, Balaenoptera musculus

Blue whale eating krill, aerial photo, the mouth and throat pleats are engorged with water and krill. Aerial photo, Baja California.

Blue whale, caudal stem, fluke with median notch, Balaenoptera musculus

Blue whale, caudal stem, fluke with median notch. Balaenoptera musculus.

Blue whale, the largest animal ever to inhabit earth, swims through the open ocean, raising fluke (tail) before making a deep dive, Balaenoptera musculus

Blue Whale

Pelagic red tuna crab, open ocean, Pleuroncodes planipes, San Diego, California

What does a huge blue whale eat? Some years, they feed on aggregations of pelagic red crabs, Pleuroncodes planipes.

An enormous blue whale raises its fluke (tail) high out of the water before diving.  Open ocean offshore of San Diego, Balaenoptera musculus

Blue Whale, San Diego

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

Whale Watching, San Diego

Blue whale underwater, Baja California, Balaenoptera musculus

Blue whale underwater, Baja California.

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

Blue whale rounding out before diving, showing dorsal ridge, distinctive mottled skin pattern and small, falcate dorsal fin. Open ocean offshore of San Diego. Balaenoptera musculus.

Water falling from a blue whale fluke as the whale dives to forage for food in the Santa Barbara Channel, Balaenoptera musculus, Santa Rosa Island, California

Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) raising its fluke to dive, Channel Islands, Santa Barbara, California.

A blue whale raises its fluke before diving in search of food.  The blue whale is the largest animal on earth, reaching 80 feet in length and weighing as much as 300,000 pounds.  North Coronado Island is in the background, Balaenoptera musculus, Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado)

Blue whale raising its fluke in front of the Coronado Islands, Mexico.

An enormous blue whale raises its fluke (tail) high out of the water before diving.  Open ocean offshore of San Diego, Balaenoptera musculus

Blue Whale, San Diego

Krill.  Likely Euphausia pacifica. A thin cloud of pink krill gathers at the ocean surface, where it is likely to be preyed upon by sharks, fish, birds and whales, San Diego, California

A cloud of tiny pink krill gathers at the ocean surface, where it is likely to be preyed upon by sharks, fish, birds and whales. Likely Euphausia pacifica.

Coccineis ceticola diatoms grow on the skin of a blue whale.  The thin brown film of commensal parasitic Coccineis diatoms, likely the species Coccineis ceticola, are often found on the skin of large cetaceans, Coccineis ceticola, Balaenoptera musculus, Santa Rosa Island, California

Diatoms (Coccineis ceticola) grow in a thin brown film on the skin of a blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus).

Blue whale, blows (exhales), Balaenoptera musculus, San Diego, California

Blue whale exhaling at the ocean surface between dives. San Diego. Balaenoptera musculus.

Blue whale, raising fluke prior to diving for food, Balaenoptera musculus, San Diego, California

Blue Whale, San Diego

Blue whale, raising fluke prior to diving for food, Balaenoptera musculus, San Diego, California

Blue Whale, San Diego

Blue whale, the largest animal ever to inhabit earth, swims through the open ocean, underwater view, Balaenoptera musculus

Blue whale underwater photo. This was a wild pass, very close. Too bad it was shot so long ago I was using Kodachrome which did not deal with the hazy water well. What a great memory...

Krill, Baja California (Pacific Ocean), Thysanoessa spinifera

Blue whales residing off California eat tons (literally) of tiny euphasiid krill, such as Thysanoessa spinifera.

Blue whale dorsal flank and remora, Balaenoptera musculus

Blue whale underwater, with many remoras stuck to the dorsal flank of the huge whale. These remora will eventually weaken and detach as the whale reaches colder northern waters. Balaenoptera musculus.

Blue whale, open blowholes, rounding out, Balaenoptera musculus

Blue Whale Aerial Photo

Blue whale footprint left behind by diving whale, Baja California, Balaenoptera musculus

Aerial photo of a blue whale footprint left behind by diving whale, Baja California.

Fishing boat fishing near blue whale feces, Balaenoptera musculus

Fishing boat fishing near blue whale feces.

Pelagic red tuna crabs, Coronado Islands, Pleuroncodes planipes, Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado)

Pelagic red tuna crabs, Pleuroncodes planipes, swimming en masse near the Coronado Islands, Mexico. These red crabs are a food source for blue whales.

Blue whale, blowhole of inquisitive adult, underwater view close up, Balaenoptera musculus

Blue whale, very close underwater view of the blowhole of an inquisitive adult. Balaenoptera musculus.

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

The splashguard of this approaching blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) pushes water aside so that it can open its blowholes (which are just behind the splashguard) to breathe.

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

Blue whale dorsal fin and dorsal ridge, mottled skin pattern. San Diego. Balaenoptera musculus.

Blue whale, swimming through the open ocean, Balaenoptera musculus, La Jolla, California

Blue Whale, La Jolla

A rainbow forms in the blow (spout) of this enormous blue whale at it is stretched out at the surface, resting and slowly swimming, during a break between feeding dives. Open ocean offshore of San Diego, Balaenoptera musculus

A rainbow forms in the blow (spout) of this enormous blue whale at it is stretched out at the surface, resting and slowly swimming during a break between feeding dives.