The World’s Largest Animal Ever – The Blue Whale

February 19th, 2010 at 1:34 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

As I write this latest blog post, I continue to be distracted by penguins literally popping out of the water just a dozen or two meters from me on the other side of my cabin window. Hundreds of them. Plop. Plop. Hop. Plop… But never mind – need to focus…

As I mentioned in an earlier post today, Bud roused us from slumber with the announcement that a small pod of whales, including at least two blue whales and possibly a fin whale, had surfaced and could be see on the port side at the bow. Blue whales are the world’s largest animal – even larger than the largest dinosaurs were tens of millions of years ago. And thanks to exploding harpoons – the only things that could subdue them – they were hunted nearly to extinction at the early part of the last century, and they remain incredibly rare even today as a result of that decimation.

So it didn’t take a lot of prodding for us to groggily pull on some weather protection, grab cameras, and stumble our way to the other end of the ship and stand out on the bow, freezing but thrilled at this wonderful opportunity.

The whales were quite some distance away, so great pictures were tough, but I did manage the following photos:

Two of the whales we saw this morning, including a blue whale just coming out of the water

Two of the whales we saw this morning, including a blue whale just coming out of the water

The blue whale blowing as it emerges from the water

The blue whale blowing as it emerges from the water

A close-up of the blue whale coming up out of the water to blow

A close-up of the blue whale coming up out of the water to blow

The blue whale is the world's largest animal, and it took quite some time after the head went under water to see the dorsal fin

The blue whale is the world's largest animal, and it took quite some time after the head went under water to see the dorsal fin

The obligatory blue-whale-in-front-of-tabular-iceberg shot

The obligatory blue-whale-in-front-of-tabular-iceberg shot

After nearly an hour we moved on, had breakfast, and I was just getting ready to go upstairs to use the sauna they have here (what a wonderful thing, when it’s on) to rid my hands of the morning chill when the call came that a larger pod of blue whales had been found. I already had sauna momentum (since I was in my swimsuit and bathrobe) but Linda grabbed my camera and tried for pictures, but the whales were too far away. After my sauna time I found the ship was still tailing the whales, and witnessed a half-dozen near simultaneous blows, and flukes coming out of the water, but have no photos to record the moment.

The highlight of the second encounter, however was that Stephanie got her first ever DNA sample of a blue whale with her crossbow, and was ecstatic and deliriously happy.

 

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