Blue whale

From: pulipal@netscape.net
Date: Thu Sep 26 2002 - 10:00:17 EDT

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    Hi! I'm doing a project for school and have a few questions I'd like to ask you. Do you think it would be feasible to build a habitat for a blue whales? (if you had the necessary funding) And how do you think the whale would respond if it was put into an enclosed environment? I also need to know how flexible the Blue Whale's diet is. Will they only eat krill or will they "go for" other things?
     
    Thanks,
    Matt
    *******************************
    Matt,

    An interesting proposition, but not at all feasible. Money would be a major concern, but in this case, is the least of your concerns. Scientists have tried to set up habitat preserves for highly endangered Chinese river dolphins, and that does not seem to have helped the animals in the slightest. That is a smallish animal in contrast to the blue whale, which reaches lengths of 22.9 to 28 m. That is HUUUUUUUGGGGEEEE. You'd need a Jurasic Park version of the ocean for this animal, and it would have to be a monster size area. I don't think we know enough about blue whale habitat preferences to set off an area of the ocean for them. How on earth woudl you fence that in??? Plus, the ocean can be a dynamic place, and certainly the food of blue whales will be dependent upon oceanographic processes (such as upwelling). Basically, stuff in the ocean moves, so the animals often move according to how their food moves. That is a very simplified explanation, but I hope it helps.

    I can't imagine a blue whale would do well in a confined space.

    Blue whales feed primarily on krill (euphausiids). You may not realize it, but when we say 'krill' it actually means multiple species of euphausiids (including the genus Euphausia, Thysanoessa, and Nematoscelis). They also take copepods of the genus Calanus and less frequently, small shrimp species (Sergestes spp.), amphipods, and squid. So, it's not like the blue whale feeds on one species but takes a variety. What they don't eat is fish. You'd have your work cut out for you to provide food to them, since it has been estimated that in a single day a blue whale may consume from less than 2 to 4 tons of food. Because they need lots of these very small animals (look online for pictures...these are often tiny, tiny critters), the whales need to move around looking for these patches or schools of krill.

    Hope this helps. Basically...this is a far-fetched possibility, but I imagine it's a project on considering the needs of an animal species. Don't forget that habitat doesn't just include a place to rest and eat, but that reproduction plays a big part as well.

    Dagmar

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