Talk about big babies, blue whales are the biggest living animal in the world so they must have big babies right? But just how big do these whales start out? Are they bigger than a full-grown dolphin? Bigger than a baby elephant? Here are some baby blue whale facts (they are cute and huge!).
How Big are Blue Whale Babies?
Maybe you have swam with dolphins or at least seen one at a zoo or aquarium. Adult bottlenose dolphins, the most common dolphin, are around 8-10 feet long and weigh 300-650 pounds. So are baby blue whales as big as adult dolphins? Turns out, they are way bigger!
Baby blue whales are 22-24 feet long and weigh around 6,000 pounds when they are born! That is twice as long as an adult dolphin and 10x heavier or more! Another reference is your average mini-van is 16 feet long, so they are longer than that. A UPS truck is 26 feet long, so the next time you see one, think about the size of a baby blue whale!
How Many Babies do Whales Have at a Time?
Just one. Cetaceans, which include whales, dolphins and porpoises all typically have one baby a time. Researchers predict the number of multiple births is less than 1%. That makes sense when you consider the size of a baby blue whale. Can you imagine a mother whale carrying around 2 babies that are 6,000 pounds?
How Long is the Pregnancy of a Mother Blue Whale?
Blue whales are usually pregnant for 10-12 months. That is similar to other whale species. Here is how it compares:
- Blue Whale 10-12 months
- Gray Whale 12 months
- Humpback Whale 11 months
- Fin Whale 11 months
- Northern Atlantic Right Whale 12 months
- Southern Right Whale 12 months
- Sei Whale 11 months
- Sperm Whale 14-16 months
When are Baby Blue Whales Born?
Baby Blue whales are born between December and February in the warmer waters of lower latitudes.
Where are Baby Blue Whales Born?
Blue whales are born in the warmer waters of the ocean in lower latitudes. For example, Blue whales that live in the North Pacific can be live all the way up the coast of the US to Gulf of Alaska, but in the winter they migrate south to the warmer waters off the coast of southern California (sounds nice!). Further west they may winter off the shores of Taiwan, Japan and Korea. Blue whales live in all the oceans of the world, but they follow a similar pattern of living closer to the poles in the summer and wintering in warmer waters closer to the equator.
How Often do Mother Blue Whales Give Birth?
Mother’s give birth every two to four years with the average being every three years.
How Old are First Time Blue Whale Mothers?
Female blue whales reach sexual maturity between 5-10 years of age. So a five-year-old whale can become a mother.
How Long do the Baby Whales Stay with their Mother?
Baby Blue whales stay with their mothers for 6-7 months until they are weaned and able to go out on their own.
How are Blue Whales Born?
Blue whales are born underwater. They grow inside their mother’s womb and after 10-12 months are delivered in the water, fins first. One of the characteristics of mammal is live birth and it is the same with whales. Another characteristic of mammals is they breathe air so how does an underwater whale breathe air? Through their blow hole, baby whales can not breathe underwater, the mother will nudge them to the surface of the ocean to take their first breath through the blow hole.
What are Baby Whales Called?
Baby whales are called calves.
What do Calves Eat?
Blue whale calves drink their mother’s milk… lots of it! Imagine the number of calories that it takes to sustain a 6,000 lbs baby. The mother’s milk is made up of 35-50% milk fat which helps the baby not only maintain their weight bet grow. Afterall, they need to keep growing until they are the largest living animal in the world! They actually put on about 10 pounds of weight an hour… yes, an hour! They grow 200-250 pounds a day.
How Big do Blue Whales Get?
Adult blue whales are 80-90 feet long and weigh 200,000-300,000 (100-150 tons). Blue whale calves are the fastest growing animal in the world as well. By the time they are six months old they have doubled in length reaching 48-52 feet long!
How do Blue Whales Babies Compare to Elephant Babies?
Do you think Blue whale babies are bigger than elephant babies? Well, they are, by a lot. Baby elephants (also called calves) weigh around 200 pounds at birth, so nowhere near the size of a baby whale. In fact, adult male African elephants are similar in size to baby blue whales. African Elephants are 18-24 feet long and weigh 8,000-12,000 pounds, baby blue whales are 22-24 feet long and around 6,000 lbs.
What Other Animals Have Big Babies?
Hippos are the second largest land animal (next to elephants) so how big are hippo babies? Hippos are born at an impressive 50-120 pounds and 4 feet long. Similar to whales, hippos have their babies underwater. Hippo babies have to surface before taking their first breath. Hippos do not have a blow hole though, they breathe through the nostrils on the top of their snout.
Giraffes are not that heavy but they are tall. The remarkable thing about baby giraffes is their entry into the world is a 6 foot drop to the hard ground (Welcome Baby!). Giraffe mother’s give birth standing up and the baby is dropped to ground then shakes it off and is able to stand up on its within an hour. The drop serves a few purposes, first it severs the umbilical cord and secondly the land on the ground gets the giraffe to take its first breath. Baby giraffes are big but nowhere near as big as a blue whale. Baby giraffes are 110-120 pounds and are six feet tall.
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