Subject: Blue Whale Width

Nancy Stevick (
Wed, 26 May 1999 20:57:32 +0100

On 25 May 1999 03:37, SIDILGER wrote:

>Ms Stevick,
>   I am researching Blue Whales for school.  How wide are they typically?
>can find Length and weight in every web site, but no width.  Thank you.

That is an interesting question, and one which is difficult to answer.  This
is not a measurement that was usually taken.  How would you measure the
width of a whale weighing over 100 tons?  Cutting the animal in half and
measuring the cross section would be a time consuming and messy business.
Without the water to support the body, the shape changes dramatically, so
your measurement would not be a true reflection of the actually width of the
living whale.

I did find a reference which gave measurements for the girth of three blue
whales.  It was in Mackintosh, N.A.  1942.  The Southern Stocks of Whalebone
Whales.  Discovery Reports, vol. XXII, pp 197-300.  If you make the
assumption that the girth of a blue whale is circular (a false assumption,
but close enough for this exercise), you can use the formula for the
circumference of a circle to determine width (diameter) using these girths
as circumferences.  I am including the length and weight of these whales for
your interest.

Length (meters), Girth (meters), Weight (Kilograms)

27.18, 13.90, 122,004
20.30, 11.05, 48,903
23.77, 10.67, 64,008

If you need other measurements of whales, there are two wonderful old
references based on measurements done from whaling stations.   They are
obscure, but interlibrary loan can get almost anything these days.

  Allen, G.M. 1916.  The Whalebone Whales of New England.  Memoirs of the
Boston Society of Natural History.  Vol. 8, #2.

  True, F.W.  1904.  The Whalebone Whales of the Western North Atlantic:
Compared with Those Occurring in European Waters With Some Observations on
the Species of the North Pacific.  Smithsonian Institution.

Good luck with your research.

Nancy Stevick