Whales Updated 800x285.jpg

Fun Facts

  • At about 98 feet long and up to 330,000 pounds, Blue Whales are the largest animals to ever live on Earth.
  • A blue whale is the same size as a 737 airplane.
  • A blue whale’s tongue alone can weigh as much as an elephant.
  • A blue whale can eat an astounding 4 tons of krill per day in the summer feeding season.
  • The blue whale’s heart can weigh up to 1,400 pounds and is the size of a Volkswagen “Beetle.” A small child could crawl through the blue whale’s largest blood vessel—and a model in the exhibition allows children to do just that!
  • Gray whales migrate up to 12,000 miles a year, farther than any other mammal known.
  • Different kinds of whales make different sounds—throaty rumbles, melodious phrases, squeaks, whistles, clicks, and buzzes.
  • Using terms such as “whales,” “dolphins,” and “porpoises” can be misleading when people want a clear picture of how whales are related. The killer whale, for example, is actually the largest dolphin! In fact, all porpoises and dolphins are toothed whales.
  • Whales can be divided into two types—baleen whales and toothed whales. Baleen whales are “batch feeders”—they use their plates of baleen to filter huge numbers of tiny prey out of the water. Toothed whales hunt their prey using echolocation. 
  • Baird’s beaked whales are pregnant for about 17 months!
  • The sperm whale has the heaviest brain of any animal. It weighs on average 17 pounds for an adult male.
  • Usually only male narwhals have a “tusk,” a modified tooth that is used as a sensory organ and for mating display.
  • Whales are unihemispheric slow-wave sleepers—sleeping with one half of their brain at a time while the other half is awake/alert.
  • Despite their massive size, blue whales feed almost exclusively on krill, tiny shrimp-like animals about the size of a jelly bean!

Whales: Giants of the Deep was developed and presented by the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. This exhibition was made possible through the support of the New Zealand Government.

Whales: Giants of the Deep is made possible in part by the Price Gilbert, Jr. Charitable Fund.