Blue Whale Pod Delights SoCal Residents

Michael Santo's picture

Blue whales are the world's largest animals, and a pod of them have been delighting southern California residents for weeks.

It is an awesome and amazing site. Blue whales are not just the biggest animal today; they are the biggest animals to have ever existed on earth. They are also extremely rare, having been driven to the brink of extinction by hunting.

The pod has been seen in Los Angeles' Santa Monica Bay for the last few weeks; whale watching tours have been crowded with whale watchers as word has spread of the pod. Blue whales can grow to as large as 100 feet in length, and can weigh as much as 150 tons. Female blue whales generally weigh more than males.

In comparison, Argentinosaurus is believed to be the biggest sauropod, at least in terms of a dinosaur whose size has been backed up by convincing evidence. This gigantic herbivore measured about 120 feet from head to tail and may have weighed over 100 tons.

Voyager Excursions skipper Craig Stanton said this is the second consecutive year that blue whales have been coming to within a mile of the mouth of King Harbor. His whalewatching tours are seeing an average of 10 blue whales a day. Scientists have even seen blue whales courting.

Blue whales were driven to near extinction in the 1900s by whalers seeking their blubber for oil. Blue whales are slowly recovering and an estimated 2,500 are thought to travel back and forth along West Coast. They generally are much further out to sea.

Wikipedia says, "Blue whales were abundant in nearly all the oceans on Earth until the beginning of the twentieth century. For over a century, they were hunted almost to extinction by whalers until protected by the international community in 1966. A 2002 report estimated there were 5,000 to 12,000 blue whales worldwide, located in at least five groups.

"More recent research into the Pygmy subspecies suggests this may be an underestimate. Before whaling, the largest population was in the Antarctic, numbering approximately 239,000 (range 202,000 to 311,000). There remain only much smaller (around 2,000) concentrations in each of the North-East Pacific, Antarctic, and Indian Ocean groups. There are two more groups in the North Atlantic, and at least two in the Southern Hemisphere."

Watch a pair of video reports, including footage of the blue whales, below.

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Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

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