A Study of Blue Whales A Study of Blue Whales "All aboard the SS 'Katie MS' for an exciting tour of the deep blue sea in search of Blue Whales. Please keep your hands and feet inside the boat at all times. Ready, set, here we go! While we're waiting to find a Blue Whale, here are some interesting facts about all whales. Whales are mammals who breathe air, are warm blooded, and produce milk to feed their young. To live in the ocean they have a streamlined form, nearly hairless skin, and an insulation of blubber that can be over 2 feet thick. Whales have one or two nostril openings, called blowholes, far back on the top of their heads. The blowholes close and the lungs compress when the whale dives. Most whales surface every 3 to 20 minutes to breathe. Some whales can remain submerged for more than an hour. When the whale surfaces they exhale and spout out the water in their blowhole. Whales have small eyes designed to withstand the great pressure of the deep sea. Most whales have very good vision and excellent hearing. Whales have brains larger than humans and are believed to be extremely intelligent. Most large whales travel in schools or pods. Some whales, like the Fin Whale, swim alone or in pairs. Some small whales form schools of up to several thousand individuals. Some larger whales, like the Blue Whale are believed to have lived 100 years or more. Oh wow, speaking of the Blue Whale, look to the right side of the boat, there's a Blue Whale now! Look at the size of it! It's about 3-4 times bigger than this boat. Did you know the Blue Whale is the largest animal on earth? Their weight varies from 120 to 190 tons, that means they can weigh around ½ million pounds. They can grow to 100 feet long. As you can see, the Blue Whale is not always blue. They are usually gray or an off white color like this one. See that they have a small dorsal fin and pointed pectoral (chest) fins and the tail is flat with flukes (arrow like points) to propel them through the water. They eat plankton, shrimp, and krill. They can eat as much as four tons of food a day. Look at their huge head that makes up nearly one quarter of their body. Did you know the Blue Whale is toothless? See how their head is shaped like a shovel? That's so they can eat by opening it's mouth and letting the sea water come through the small bony plates, or furrows, that they use as teeth. The furrows are like a strainer and let the water pass out of the whale and keeps the food in the whale's mouth which they quickly swallow. Did you know mating begins in the winter? There's a calf born every second or third year after a gestation period of 10-11 months. When the calf is born it's pushed up to the surface by the mother and it's able to swim immediately. The calf is nursed for 6 months and it reaches puberty in about three years. They can live to be a 100 years old. Because so many Blue Whales have been killed by people who hunted whales, the numbers of whales have decreased from about 400,000 to 12,000. By 1966 they were hunted nearly to extinction when they were banned from being hunted worldwide by the International Commission on Whaling. They are still very rare and listed as an endangered species. The habitat of the Blue Whale during spring, summer, and fall is the north Atlantic Ocean along the north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and off eastern Nova Scotia, Canada. During the summer they appear off southern Newfoundland and in the Davis Strait. The Pacific Ocean population migrates in the spring - fall past Vancouver Island, Canada in the food rich areas close to the edge of the polar ice. In the winter they migrate to warmer waters. Well it's time for us to go ashore. This was a real exciting trip seeing a gigantic Blue Whale. Thank you for joining us today on the SS 'Katie MS'. The crew and I really enjoyed having you aboard. Take all your personal belongings with you. Be careful when getting off the boat. Please visit our gift shop that is located in the main entrance area. We hope to see you again real soon.