How Big is a Whale?
There is a lot of curiosity when it comes to some of Earth’s largest creature- the whale. A question is often asked, “What is bigger than a whale?” Well, that answer depends solely on which whale species you are referring to! Each species of whale ranges in shapes and sizes, each impressive in their own way. Below we will discuss ten whale species, both Baleen and toothed, starting from largest to smallest.
What Is the Biggest Whale?
The blue whale is not only the biggest whale, but it is also the biggest animal that has ever existed. Those found in the Antarctic tend to be larger than blue whales found in other oceans. Antarctic whales can reach 110 feet long and weigh 330,000 pounds. Other blue whales often grow to be around 90 feet long and weigh around 200,000 pounds. Females are generally bigger than males.
At birth, a blue whale calf is around 23 feet long and weighs 5,000 to 6,000 pounds. During its first year of life, a whale calf can gain up to 200 pounds a day, thanks to the high amount of fat produced by the mother’s milk.
Although they are the biggest, blue whales eat only small things, which consist mostly of krill (small and shrimp-like). However, a whale’s stomach can fit up to 2,200 pounds of food. The heart itself is about the size of a small car, and the main blood vessel is wide enough that a person could crawl through it. The tongue weighs as much as an elephant. Even if you see a blue whale in its habitat, it can be difficult to get a true idea of how big the mammal really is, as much of it is covered by water.
How Many Species of Whales are There?
There are 91 species of whales in total that scientists know about, and they fall into two main types: Baleen and toothed. There are 15 species of baleen whales and 76 species of toothed ones. Toothed whales have teeth with which they eat their prey, while baleen whales have plates that strain prey from the water.
The baleen species consist of four families, and they are often referred to as the great whales, because they are generally bigger than those found among toothed whales. The blue whale is a baleen whale, as is the gray and humpback whale. Baleen whales tend to be found in small groups or alone, and many of them migrate to warmer waters during the winter months to mate and give birth.
There are 10 families of toothed whales, and they include porpoises and dolphins. The largest of the toothed whales is the sperm whale. Toothed whales are social and are usually found in large groups called pods. They are also extremely intelligent and show complex behavior.
List of Whales By Size
1. Blue Whale
The Blue Whale is not only the largest whale species, but the largest mammal on Earth. Therefore, to answer the earlier question, no creature on this planet is larger than the Blue Whale! Weighing at about 173 tons, the Blue Whale can grow to be about 98 feet (30 meters). That is equivalent to the length of three school buses lined up! Due to their enormous size, if you are left wondering what is the largest thing a whale can swallow, the answer is- a grapefruit! Their throat is about the size of plate, which is why they feed on plankton and small fish.
2. Fin Whale
The Fin Whale is next in line as the second largest whale species in the world. These grow to be about 90 feet long (27.5 meters). Although they are close in length to the Blue Whale, this species only weighs about 72 tons due to their slim shape.
3. Sperm Whale
The Sperm Whale is the largest toothed whale in existence, getting to be an average of 67 feet in length (20.5 meters). Males can weigh up to 56 tons. It has been said that this whale species may have decreased in overall size due to the large amount of whaling in the past. Fun fact: Sperm Whales have the largest brain of any known mammal on Earth while their heads take up one third of their body length!
4. Right Whale
The Right Whale is extremely robust. But how big is a full grown whale? On average, it grows to be about 59 feet long (18 meters). However, the largest known Right Whales grew to be 65 feet (19.8 meters). Being solidly built, Right Whales are significantly heavier than other whales, weighing around 100 tons. This makes them second in line to the Blue Whale based off of sheer body mass.
5. Bowhead Whale
The Bowhead Whale is one of the more thick-bodied whales.Their length ranges from about 46-59 feet (14-18 meters). Their weight averages at around 75 tons but can reach to around 100 tons.
6. Humpback Whale
7. Sei Whale
By maturity, the Sei Whale can get to be 52 feet in length and weigh as much as 28 tons.
8. Gray Whale
The Gray Whale is another crowd favorite. Once called devil fish due to their ferocious fighting behavior against hunters, these valiant creatures can reach about 49 feet in length (14.9 meters) and weigh around 40 tons.
9. Bryde’s Whale
The Bryde’s Whale ranges in size depending on where they are located. Their size averages at about 46 feet. However, the largest females found have been about 50 feet in length while the male is around 47 feet. Their weight ranges from 13-28 tons.
10. Minke Whale
The Minke Whale is the second smallest Baleen whale (Pygmy Right Whale is the first). On average, females are 26 feet in length while males are around 23 feet. Both average at about 6 tons in weight. At their largest, females can be around 35 feet and males at 32 feet, both around 11 tons in weight.
Whale Watching with Next Level Sailing
The best way to see whales in their natural habitats is to take a whale watching tour. At Next Level Sailing, we take whale watching seriously, and if you do not see a whale on your excursion, you get a free future trip to try again. However, that almost never happens, as whales are abundant due to the many types of food found in the warm waters off the coast of San Diego.
Another great thing about whale watching in the area is that it is possible to see whales at any time of the year. Winter and spring are the perfect times to see gray whales, as this is when they migrate down to warmer waters. There are a variety of whales that can be seen during the summer months, and humpbacks are a typical sighting during the fall.
Along with seeing various species of whales, including the rare blue whale, your whale watching trip will also introduce you to other sea life. Common sightings include dolphins, sea lions, and pelicans. With many years of experience, Next Level Sailing knows where to find whales, such as along the coast for gray ones and in deeper waters for many other species. Pack a lunch, bring along your favorite beverage, and enjoy an afternoon on the water.