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Blue Whales in Cabo San Lucas

Blue Whales are the third most common Baleen Whale species encountered on our Cabo San Lucas Whale watching tours. Blue Whales are infrequent visitors to the waters of Cabo San Lucas. We typically encounter Blue Whales as they are migrating between their feeding grounds in Alaska and their wintering area in Loreto to the north in the Sea of Cortez. While we do not get to meet the Blue Whales very often, the experience of seeing a Blue Whale here in Cabo San Lucas is a memory of a lifetime. The Blue Whales we see belong to the North Eastern Pacific population which is estimated at 1,200 Whales that have an annual growth rate of 3%.

You can find general Blue Whale information on this page kindly prepared and shared by the American Cetacean Society.

Blue Whale Information

Classification

The blue whale is one of the largest animals ever to have existed on earth, and it feeds on one of the smallest. Using baleen plates (of up to 1 metre long), it filters massive swarms of krill, a tiny shrimp-like creature, from the water column. There is much debate surrounding the subspecific taxonomy of blue whales and currently there are several recognised sub-species, with the most basic division separating them into four: B. m. musculus refers to the populations of blue whale found in the North Pacific and the North Atlantic, B. m. intermedia (sometimes called the “true” blue whale) describes the Antarctic form, B. m. brevicauda (also known as the “pygmy” blue whale) describes the population found in the southern Indian Ocean (excluding Antarctica) and B. m. indica has been assigned to the blue whales found in the northern Indian Ocean.

Appearance

The blue whale has a long, streamlined shape, pale blue or grey back with mottled, lighter blotches. The belly is usually paler and sometimes white, although a layer of algae may make it look yellow. The head of the blue whale is broad and long, up to a quarter of its total body length, and U-shaped like a gothic arch. A single ridge running along the top of the head ends in a very large splashguard in front of the two blowholes, each of which can mesaure 22 inches in diameter. The blue whale has 55 to 88 throat grooves which expand during feeding. The tongue of the blue whale weighs approximately 4 tonnes and is large enough for an entire football team to stand on. Blue whales are thought to have a life expectancy of between 60 and 120 years.

Behaviour

Out at sea, blue whales can be spotted during good weather at a considerable distance because of the up to 12m height of their powerful blows. They usually swim quite slowly, but can travel at over 30km/h if they are chased. Young blue whales have been seen breaching, but adults very rarely seem to do this. Often seen singly or in pairs, blue whales have loud, deep voices that carry great distances, making it possible that they are in contact with others of their own kind hundreds or even more than a thousand kilometres away. Most blue whales are thought to migrate between tropical and polar waters. In general, in winter they go to warm, low latitude tropical waters to breed and give birth. In summer they migrate to cooler, high latitude polar waters to feed. During this migration and on the winter breeding grounds, they are thought to eat virtually nothing for at least four months and live on energy from body reserves. Recent studies on the Costa Rican Dome, however, reveal that the blue whales present there are actively feeding on the winter breeding ground.

Distribution

These ocean giants were aggressively targeted by whalers because they were a particularly valuable prize, and their populations remain greatly depleted. Hunting blue whales has been banned since 1966, but blue whale meat occasionally shows up in Japanese markets to this day labelled as that of other species. They are primarily threatened by ship strikes, noise and chemical pollution. Their IUCN status is Endangered worldwide, with some populations such as the Antarctic blue whale considered Critically Endangered.

Mexican name:
  • Ballena Azul
Maximum length:
  • Male: 29m
  • Female: 33m
  • Calf: 7m
Maximum weight:
  • Male: 150,000kg
  • Female: 180,000kg
  • Calf: 2,700kg
Diet:
  • Various species of krill
Estimated population:

10,000 – 25,000

IUCN Listing:

EN

CITES Appendix:

I

CMS Appendix:

I


cabo san lucas blue whale map

Known range of the Blue Whale