length of blue whale intestine

From: Cathy Schaeff (schaeff@american.edu)
Date: Wed Apr 10 2002 - 14:49:09 EDT

Hi Susie,

This NOAA site suggests that the intestine of large whales tend to be 5-6
times their total body length (see below). A blue whale's body temperature
is similar to humans, just under 100 degrees F. Sorry, I don't know what
the blood pressure of a blue whale is. It is true that there is generally
an inverse relationship between size and longevity with larger animals
typically living longer than smaller ones. Large whales do have long life

Hope this helps,


The total capacity of the stomach of a large whale is about 760 liters (200
gallons). This is relatively small compared to the cow with a capacity of
209 liters (55 gallons) and the human with a capacity of 17 liters (4.5
pints). The first chamber in all whales is a dilatable, sac-like, extension
of the esophagus with no digestive glands. This is the compartment that
"chews" the food -- as the gizzard does in birds (remember -- baleen whales
have no teeth and toothed whales don't use their teeth to chew). In baleen
whales, the first compartment is quite small (little need to "chew" since
their prey is so small), while in toothed whales the compartment is
relatively large. The second chamber is where digestive juices are
released -- pepsin and hydrochloric acid have been found in this part of the
stomach of some whales. Most cetaceans have a third large chamber which is
the pyloric part of the stomach. The intestine is quite large, usually five
to six times the length of the body (human intestines run about two times
body length or about 12-13 feet in an adult). Baleen whales also contain a
distinctive caecum and colon, and, as with other mammals, have a pancreas
and liver which deliver digestive enzymes by way of a duct into the
digestive tract (there is no gall bladder in contrast to humans).


-----Original Message-----
From: Susie Parfitt <sooz@ecse.demon.co.uk>
To: schaeff@american.edu <schaeff@american.edu>; pita@whale.wheelock.edu
Date: Tuesday, April 09, 2002 2:34 PM
Subject: length of blue whale intestine

>I'd be very grateful for help with the following questions, if possible,
>a project I am working on:
>1. Is it known what is the length of a Blue Whale's intestine please?
>2. Do we know the blood pressure and average temperature of the Blue
>3. I have seen estimates for the Blue Whale's heart beat as being from 5 -
>30 beats per minute (increasing when stressed, like us). This seems quite
>big range - is there any latest research? Also, is it correct that mammals
>have on average the same number of heart beats per lifetime, therefore the
>quicker the heart beats the shorter the life; and the slower it beats, the
>longer the life, eg a shrew's heart beats very fast and it has a short
>a whale's beats slowly and it lives a long time.
>It would be great if you are able to help. I've trawled through a lot of
>info - including the Ask Archive and the Zoology library at the British
>Natural History Museum, but have not been able to find answers to these
>questions. Most data seems to relate to weight, length, skeleton size etc
>rather than internal organ size/info.
>Many thanks for your assistance,
>Susie Parfitt


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