Blue whale

From: mwilliamson (mwilliamson@wheelock.edu)
Date: Mon Oct 07 2002 - 13:47:45 EDT

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    >Subject: Blue whale
    >
    >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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                          J. Michael Williamson
    Principal Investigator-WhaleNet <http://whale.wheelock.edu>
                       Associate Professor-Science
      Wheelock College, 200 The Riverway, Boston, MA 02215
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                   since I was three feet tall"
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