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Species at Risk

Blue whale (Atlantic population)

Balaenoptera musculus

What is the Blue Whale?

View of the back of a Blue whale.
In addition to being the Earth’s largest animal, the blue whale is also the noisiest: its cry, which can reach 186 decibels, is louder than a jet plane!
© Parks Canada / J. Audet

The blue whale is a cold-water cetacean recognized by its long, slender body that is widest at the eyes. Its head takes up approximately one quarter of the total length of the body. Its dorsal fin is rather small and its pectoral fins are pointed.

Blue whales are part of the baleen whale family. The pattern of spots that cover its body can vary considerably, but it is unique to each whale and remains the same throughout its life. The pattern can therefore be used to identify individuals, which enables scientists to follow their movements and recognize their behaviours. The blue whale is enormous: the largest ever observed was 29.5 metres long and weighed more than 150 tonnes. On average blue whales are 20 metres long and females are generally larger than males. At birth, calves are around 7 metres long and weigh around 2 tonnes. That’s the size of a school bus and the weight of a minivan!

Species at Risk - Who Knew?

Did you think that the biggest creature to ever live on the planet was a dinosaur? Well, you’re wrong! The blue whale has the record! In fact, the largest of all dinosaurs only measured 24 metres and weighed 36 tonnes. The blue whale, however, can be up 29.5 meters and weigh 150 tonnes!

Where is the Blue Whale found?

The blue whale spends most of its time in coastal waters and the deep sea. The Atlantic population of blue whales lives in the waters off the east coast of Canada. During the spring, summer and fall, these whales can be found along the north coast of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the east coast of Nova Scotia. During the summer, the Atlantic population can also be found along the south coast of Newfoundland and in the Davis Straight, between Baffin Island and Greenland. Blue whales generally migrate south for the winter; however, if the ice cover is thin, some whales may stay in the St. Lawrence for a good part of the cold season.