Blue Whale update

From: Dagmar Fertl (dagmar_fertl@hotmail.com)
Date: Tue Mar 28 2000 - 14:53:07 EST


Hello
I'm Paul Lietz. I'm a fifth grade student at Hartley Elementary school. I'm
writing a report about Blue Whales. I have general information for the body
of my report. I was interested in more updated type information. Like how
many Blue Whales are currently alive? What did hunters do with the Blue
Whales? What specific products were uniquely made from the Blue Whale? Where
can I find a picture of a just born Blue Whale calf? Any other ideas?
Thank you for any cool facts or stories.

P.S. A joke.
What do you do with a Blue Whale?
Cheer it up!
***************************************************
Dear Paul,
Great joke! Here are two for you...hopefully not too cheesy for you.
Q: What is a dolphin's favorite TV show ?
A: Whale of fortune !
Q: What's the coldest fish in the sea ?
A: A blue whale !

But, on to more serious business. It's very difficult to say how many blue
whales are living in the world's oceans. As you know, blue whales are
considered an endangered species, but they certainly are no longer as
threatened as in the past. The northern right whale is actually the world's
most endangered baleen whale.

Pre-whaling stocks were estimated at 166,000 to 226,000 animals worldwide,
but by the early 1970's, only 11,000 to 12,000 remained. The National Marine
Fisheries Service tells us that the world's population of blue whales is
approximately 11,700, with about 10,000 of these in southern oceans, 1600 in
the North Pacific, and only low hundreds in North Atlantic waters. I can
tell you that there is a hotspot of blue whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence,
where approximately 320 blue whales live.

It sounds like you're really into blue whales. I would recommend that you
read the following book for more information:
Blue Whales (WorldLife Library Series) by John Calambokidis and Gretchen
Steiger.
It is a very, very good book on blue whales, written by scientists who study
them.

You might also want to look at the following website, but some of the
information may be too technical:
http://www.nmfs.gov/prot_res/PDF_docs/blue_whale.pdf

I'm not aware of any photos that anyone has of a live newborn blue whale.
That would be a really cool photo though. I can tell you that a blue whale
fetus of a mom measuring 25 meters would measure 6.5 meters.

Let me tell you some interesting things about blue whales that maybe you
didn't know, but can use in your report.

1). In 1992, the U.S. Navy initiated a test program to make available to
marine mammal scientists, acoustic data collected during their submarine
defense system (used to detect and track Soviet submarines). The system
consists of networks of hydrophones (underwater microphones), some towed by
ships and others set into the ocean bottom. Scientists have been able to
locate and track individual blue whales over hundreds of kilometers for
weeks. One scientist was able to track one individual whale (from the
collection of tapes) traveling from one ocean to another!

2) Scientists have found hybrids or crosses, indicating that blue whales and
fin whales sometimes mate with one another.

3) Do you know what kind of sound blue whales make? They make a
low-frequency sound that sounds very deep, like a moan. These sounds are
probably used for communication. In addition to communication, the moans may
aid in navigation by serving as a form of long-distance echolocation for
oceanographic features.

4) Blue whales often have remoras attached to them. Remoras are small fish
that are 'hitchhikers'.

5) We don't know how long blue whales live, but certainly more than 50 years
for both males and females.

6) Individual blue whales may be identified by the mottling or blue marbling
pattern of the sides of their bodies, as well as notches or shapes in the
dorsal fin.

7) There are three subspecies of blue whale.

Best of luck with your report, and write back if you have more questions.

Dagmar

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