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Baby Whales – How Big Are They Really?

a bird flying over the water

Whales are mammals, which makes them like humans in many respects. However, they live different lives, the most obvious being that they are not land-dwelling creatures. Every species of whale is much larger than a human, even newborns. So how big are these babies, really? Some babies start as large as a full-grown African elephant! You may be shocked to learn how giant a baby whale is when it’s born and how outlandishly big it will grow throughout its life. 

When Do Whales Mate?

Whales typically mate during the cooler fall and winter months, but this can vary depending on the environment, species, and available food supply. For example, humpback whales typically mate between December and May, whereas fin whales prefer to breed in late fall or winter. Mating in the fall and winter delays their migration pattern, which allows them to give birth late in warmer climates.

How Long Is a Whale’s Gestation Period?

Surprisingly, many whale species, including humpback whales, fin whales, Bryde’s whales, sei whales, minke whales, and blue whales, have a gestation period similar to the human gestation period. While most typically last 10 to 12 months, pilot whales experience a more extended gestation period, usually between 12 and 15 months. Sperm whales have the most prolonged gestation period, approximately 18 months. 

a bird flying over the water

Where Are They Born?

Whales inhabit every major ocean in the world, including the Arctic and Antarctic oceans, although they’re also plentiful in tropical waters around the equator. It’s common for many whales to migrate from their feeding grounds to the equator so they can birth their calves in a warmer climate. The migration path and destination that a whale takes depends on the area of the world from which it originated. Gray whales migrate as far as 7,000 miles, and that’s just one way! However, orca whales tend to stay relatively close to the area of their origin.

How Big Are Baby Whales?

You may be asking, “What is a baby whale called?” Like a land-dwelling cow, a whale baby is known as a calf. These whale calves vary a lot in size depending on the species. Pilot whales are typically born up to six feet long and weigh around 225 pounds. Orca whales are approximately 8 feet long and weigh 350 pounds at birth. Sperm whales are born much bigger: 13 feet long and weighing about 2,000 pounds. However, they are dwarfed by baby blue whales, born approximately 25 feet long and a whopping 8,800 pounds! Blue whales can also gain as much as 200 pounds daily over their first year of life!

a bird flying over a body of water

When Do They Reach Adulthood?

Whales progress through four life stages. They are calves from birth to one year, yearlings from one to two years, sub-adults from two to five years, sexually mature in five to 10 years, and become mature adults at 13 to 18 years of age. Sexual maturity also depends on the species and sex of the whale. Some species can take up to 20 years to reach full size. Sexual maturity is also related to their length. For example, in species that feature larger females than males, the females advance to sexual maturity faster than their male counterparts. Fun fact: the blue whale is believed to be the biggest animal living on the planet, much larger than any dinosaur. 

Whales are genuinely fascinating sea creatures. Nothing is boring about these gentle giants, from their enormous size to their migration habits. To truly appreciate these magnificent mammals, you must go on a whale-watching excursion at least once. Seeing them firsthand will show you just how huge yet graceful these animals are. Their beauty is truly indescribable, and you must see them for yourself. You may even be lucky enough to see baby whales! Make plans today for a once-in-a-lifetime aquatic adventure with Next Level Sailing.