Blue whales are one of the most intimidating specimens that you will ever behold. Ever since I saw one, the nostalgia of open sea adventure has never let go. Please, forget about all those dinosauric fantasies in your head. I will tell you only this: Behold a whale, and you will never stop running back.
I love nature: including most of its fauna and flora. From the highest of mountains to the deepest of valleys, my curiosities have always been boundless. But I hardly traveled more than a few times a year. And these days, I seldom travel more than twice. Therefore, since I cannot always embark on adventurous ego trips, I let them come to me. My incurable extravagance has always been books and documentary films. I would rather die of their afflictions than accept any kind of remedy to assuage them. Don’t pity me; just pray for me. I love my life; and love how I have always lived it. Can’t thank God enough!
Whales need no introduction as being the largest living animals in today’s world. In the same vein, every scientific research has also confirmed them as the largest animal that has existed. Much bigger than the grandest dinosaur you could ever imagine! We all know that they are mammals as opposed to fishes. And, it is every adventurer’s ambition to witness one: live!
A fully grown adult blue whale is comparable to the largest nuclear submarine that you ever saw. It is just that it does not carry any warhead. This animal looks dirty and unkempt despite having spent its entire life bathing in various oceans of the globe.
It has bluish-grey skin, which is dotted by uncountable white flakes. The head is distinct with a pair of gigantic lips whose underside gave rise to an armor-like groovy throat. Its over hundred feet long body (i.e. over 30 meters) tapered in a large tail fin, which would compare to the wings of a small aircraft. The volcanic sounds emanating from its huge lungs, thunders several miles away. Scientists would stress that this is the loudest noise generated by any living thing. And I do not doubt that, having witnessed it firsthand. I have also read that the animal’s lung-capacity exceeds 1,300 gallons (i.e. more than 5,000 liters).
What I saw last year in the vast Nordic waters, which ran from Britain all the way to the distant shores of Norway, reminded me of one comic magazine I read as a child. The story highlighted how the imperfect radars of many World War II ships and planes consistently mistook whales for enemy submarines. But I won’t dwell on that now. All I will reaffirm is that the gist seemed logical to me. After all, with a body mass of almost 200 tons and a length approaching 110 feet, who would blame a suspicious Squadron Leader or an apprehensive Navy Commodore for such an understandable error of judgment?
The elegance with which blue whales navigate their habitats is better seen than described. I was surprised to learn that these massive creatures could sprint at an astonishing speed of more than 30 miles per hour (i.e. over 50km/h). And, these short bursts of energy were often punctuated with booming calls, which reverberated on the walls of our not-so-large boat. Then, it will be time to splash their huge pectoral fins. The length of each of these two wings surpasses the width of the average basketball court.
One thing which was not funny about this ritualistic splashing was the way it rattled our boat. It literally tossed it all over the place. The ripples thus generated were very strong, despite our being some 200 yards (i.e. about 180 meters) from the site of action. At a point, I paused my camcorder, in order to hold onto the railings.
It never stops to baffle me as per why the largest animal in the world would choose to feed on one of the smallest. The sheer size of a blue whale would have you expecting it to swallow a bison for a snack. But that will never happen. Blue whales are very selective whenever the issue concerns their delicacies. They often limit their preferences to particular species of tiny shrimps and other crustaceans.
Although I would not call whales my favorite animals, I have always appreciated them. Indeed, big things make me smile. And my observing them last year only served to rekindle my interest. I have since read extensively about their lifestyles and adaptations. They are fastidiously migratory. After spending the summer months feeding in polar seas, they head for the tropics in autumn, where they would remain until the end of spring.
If everything I learned about blue whales is to be trusted, then, I would tell you that they preferentially starve throughout the months they spend in tropical waters. They do not feed anywhere else except in Nordic waters; and that is only during the summer months. This is what I read. So, feel free to believe or dispute it as you please. I have no way of verifying its validity.
Instead of feeding, blue whales spend most of their time in tropical waters socializing and mating. They have been protected since 1967. Oh yes! That was long before many of us were born. And till this day, they are regarded as endangered species. Their mode of life is such that they do not reproduce rapidly. Pregnancy is a full year event. And, a nursing mother would spend years protecting and caring for its calf. Usually one offspring is produced in a litter; and life goes on.
Wild blue whales are exciting to watch; although, their ceaseless bellows and splashes could scare any Julius Caesar watching from a boat. They seemed unruffled and well-aware of everything happening around them. At a point, I presumed that those nerve-wrenching displays: their thundering bellows and tsunamic splashes were specifically to warn us to keep our distance. We didn’t advance an inch nearer. My binoculars had earlier spotted a calf amongst them. And, I still wonder if they are as protective of their young as we humans are of ours. Allow me to end it here. I want to relive the video I made then. Cheers!
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