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La Ballena Azul 

El animal más grande del planeta, con sus 30 metros de longitud, sus más de 100 toneladas, dominando con su majestuosa figura los océanos, hablamos del Balaenoptera musculus, más conocida como la ballena azul, también se la puede encontrar con el nombre de rorcual azul. 

Si bien no conocemos muchas de sus facetas, esto puede contribuir a fortalecer las leyendas que giran a su alrededor. Hay mitos y leyendas muy variadas, pero si hay algo que todas ellas tienen en común, es que siempre se las ha considerado como seres excepcionales. En la Grecia antigua eran los seres que protegían a los viajeros y, tanto defines como ballenas, eran sagrados.  

 Entre las historias contadas en alta mar, una refiere que nuestro primer antepasado viajó a Nueva Zelanda en el lomo de una ballena azul y que desde ese momento se los consideró como seres poderosos y sobrenaturales. 

Hoy hablaremos sobre la Ballena Azul, una de las especies en mayor peligro de extinción. ¿Tomaremos conciencia sobre la preservación de este animal? ¿Aprenderemos un poco de su vida? ¿Cómo podemos ayudarlas? La mano del hombre hace que este mundo sea poco piadoso para ellas. 

Algunos datos interesantes para comenzar a conocerla. La ballena azul más grande que se ha registrado medía 33 metros de largo, el equivalente a tres vagones de ferrocarril, con un peso de 190.000 kilogramos. Podríamos compararla con 32 elefantes africanos. Otro dato curioso es que, si nos remontamos a los animales más grandes que habitaron este planeta, los majestuosos dinosaurios, las ballenas son seis veces más grandes. 

Su corazón pesa 2.000 kilogramos, casi el tamaño de un automóvil y bombea 230 litros de sangre por latido sobre un total de 15.100 litros de sangre que contiene todo su sistema circulatorio. Su cerebro en cambio es apenas de 19 kilogramos, el 0.01 % de su peso corporal. 

Son excelentes nadadoras, su velocidad habitual es de 22km/h, aunque mientras se están alimentando, su velocidad desciende bastante, oscilando entre 2 y 6,5 km/h. Pero si se sienten amenazadas, pueden alcanzar velocidades cercanas a los 50km/h. 

A pesar de su gran tamaño os sorprenderá saber que toda su alimentación está basada en exclusiva en un pequeño animalito parecido a un camarón, llamado krill. Esta ballena tiene entre 55 y 80 surcos (pliegues ventrales) paralelos a su cuerpo y a lo largo de su garganta. Estos pliegues ayudan a la evacuación del agua de la boca después de sus grandes embestidas para alimentarse, reteniendo así, con este sistema de filtrado, el ansiado Krill. En edad adulta pueden consumir unas 4 toneladas de krill al día. 

Su época de apareamiento comienza a finales de otoño y dura hasta finales del invierno y las hembras dan a luz tras un periodo de gestación de diez a doce meses. La cría pesa casi tres toneladas y mide alrededor de 8 m de longitud. Los ballenatos beben unos trescientos ochenta litros de leche al día y aumentan unos noventa kilogramos de peso también al día. ¡Son los bebés más grandes de este mundo! 

Debido a su tamaño, velocidad y fuerza, este preciado animal no fue cazado durante muchos años, esto se debía en gran parte a la falta de infraestructuras de los barcos que no podían izar y sacar del agua su descomunal cuerpo una vez cazado. 

Más adelante, la llegada de los barcos de vapor marcó con sangre su exterminio. Entre 1930 y 1960 estuvieron al borde de la extinción debido a la caza intensiva que los balleneros llevaron a cabo para obtener su aceite. Fue cazada sin piedad en todos los mares de la Tierra contabilizando a fines del siglo XX apenas un diez por ciento de la población original. 

Sin contar con la mano del hombre, este majestuoso animal no tiene depredadores naturales. Suelen sufrir algún ataque de orcas o tiburones pero, en realidad, en la mayor parte de las ocasiones, su amenaza principal es quedar heridas o morir a causa de choques con grandes embarcaciones. 

Según la National Geographic, en 1966 la Comisión Ballenera Internacional determinó su protección, pero desde entonces su situación solo ha mejorado ligeramente. En la actualidad, lamentablemente, las ballenas azules están clasificadas como especie en peligro de extinción en la Lista Roja de la Unión para la Conservación Mundial. 

¡¡¡Afortunadamente aún podemos observar la majestuosidad de estos animales buceando!!! 

Aunque no tenemos el placer de verlas en aguas de Eivissa, ya que su ruta no pasa por nuestra isla, sí es muy común observar en invierno la ballena rorcual común, de la que os hablaré más adelante. Y también nuestros amados delfines, que han sido protagonistas de uno de nuestros anteriores blogs. 

Como cada fin de año, nuestro centro de buceo SCUBA IBIZA organiza viajes a distintos mares del mundo para conocer, disfrutar y ver en su hábitat diferentes especies. Pero la experiencia que os contaré a continuación no ha sido con ellos. Ocurrió en mis inicios como buceadora. Mi destino: Sri Lanka. El mejor sitio para bucear y nadar con ballenas, debido a la gran cantidad de ejemplares que suelen concentrarse en estas aguas asiáticas. 

El día se presentó soleado, el mar planchado, perfecto para un buceo tan esperado y todo el grupo de buceadores estaba listo para la nueva aventura. Ya con los equipos preparados nos disponíamos a escuchar el briefing y recuerdo que llamó mi atención la explicación sobre cómo nadar con ellas. La idea ante la posibilidad de un encuentro con ballenas me resultaba gratamente impactante. 

De pronto, el capitán interrumpió la charla para que todos fuéramos a babor para ver una ballena que pasaba a nuestro lado para saludarnos antes de la inmersión, ¡¡la sensación era descomunal y aún no nos habíamos sumergido!! Según él, ese ejemplar mediría unos 18 metros. 

Lo que recuerdo de aquella charla era que, principalmente, debíamos intentar bucear y nadar todos en el mismo lado de la ballena. La razón se basaba en que éstas, al tener los ojos situados lateralmente, no tienen visón periférica, de esta manera, si nos distribuíamos a cada lado, se sentiría rodeada y podría reaccionar de forma brusca e intentar escapar. Por otro lado, si bien son seres inofensivos, un coletazo de tantas toneladas de peso podría provocar algún accidente no deseado. Nos contó también que las ballenas azules suelen vivir en solitario o en pareja y que ocasionalmente se las podía ver en pequeños grupos, pero que seguramente ese día veríamos únicamente un ejemplar. 

Una increíble experiencia que difícilmente se puede poner en palabras, solo puedo decir que fue una de las mejores vivencias que experimenté en mi vida. 

Algo más para contar es lo ruidosas que son. La primera vez que las escuché no salía de mi asombro. Al salir de la inmersión pregunte al guía si le sucedía algo a la ballena o si era normal y éste me contó que las ballenas azules emiten distintos gemidos y tipos de gruñidos y que éstas pueden comunicarse entre sí a más de 1.500 kilómetros de distancia. Se cree que, además de utilizarlo para la comunicación submarina de largo alcance, también lo utilizan para poder navegar en las oscuras profundidades del océano. 

Las ballenas pueden emitir llamadas de unos 10 a 30 segundos de duración, incluso se han registrado “cantos” de cuatro notas que duran unos dos minutos. Aunque se han hecho muchos estudios, este tipo de sonidos nunca se ha observado en ninguna otra población, por lo que se llegó a la conclusión que este fenómeno puede ser una característica exclusiva y única de la ballena azul. Los motivos por lo que emiten estos sonidos aún son desconocidos. 

Pero en 1995 Richardson habla de seis posibles motivos: 

  1. Para mantener la distancia interindividual, 
  1. Para el reconocimiento de la especie, 
  1. Para la trasmisión de información contextual (por ejemplo: alimentación, alarma, cortejo, etc.), 
  1. Para el mantenimiento de la organización social (por ejemplo: llamadas entre machos y hembras), 
  1. Para informar sobre rasgos topográficos 
  1. Para informar sobre la posición de fuentes de posibles presas. 

Lamentablemente, hoy en día las ballenas son víctimas principalmente de la caza indiscriminada de algunos países como Japón, debido a que su carne es utilizada en productos cosméticos y suplementos alimenticios. Y lo terrible de esto es que los métodos que se utilizan son inhumanos. Para matarlas, se utilizan arpones con granadas que las someten a una muerte lenta y dolorosa. 

Por otro lado, la amenaza contra la especie aumenta si tenemos en cuenta su baja capacidad de recuperación ya que tiene periodos de gestación largos (de un año) y que tienen tan solo paren una o dos crías por embarazo. Este es el motivo por el que la población de las ballenas se recupera mucho más lentamente, en comparación con otras poblaciones de animales más pequeños y que tienden a invertir menos tiempo y esfuerzo en su reproducción. 

Mientras lees este mensaje, una ballena azul seguramente se está resistiendo en la soledad del gran azul a ser cazada. Tal vez algún día podamos ver a estos gigantescos y majestuosos animales en libertad sin sobresaltos, protegidos y cuidados por todos los países de este planeta. 

Y entonces habremos demostrado que los seres humanos pertenecemos a una raza compasiva e inteligente. 

Ya sea desde la orilla o en una embarcación… 

Observa los océanos, fija tu mirada en el mar, siéntelo, respira… ellos nos proporcionan la mitad del oxígeno que respiramos… donde las leyendas cobran vida y la realidad se convierte en fábula. Desconocidos mundos, desconocidas historias, solo custodiadas por un furioso e indefenso mar. 

 

Carla Villari. 

Referencias: 

  • National Geographic 
  • ABC Sociedad 
  • Wikipedia 

The Blue Whale

The largest animal on the planet, with its 30 meters in length, its more than 100 tons, dominating the oceans with its majestic figure, we speak of the Balaenoptera musculus, better known as the blue whale, it can also be found with the name of fin whale blue. 

Although we do not know many of its facets, this can help to strengthen the legends that revolve around it. There are very varied myths and legends, but if there is something that all of them have in common, it is that they have always been considered as exceptional creatures. In ancient Greece they were the creatures that protected travelers and, both defines and whales, were sacred. 

Among the stories told on the high seas, one relates that our first ancestor traveled to New Zealand on the back of a blue whale and that from that moment they were considered powerful and supernatural creatures. 

Today we will talk about the Blue Whale, one of the most endangered species. Will we become aware of the preservation of this animal? Will we learn a little about his life? How can we help them? The hand of man makes this world unkind to them. 

Some interesting facts to get to know it. The largest blue whale on record was 33 meters long, the equivalent of three railroad cars, weighing 190,000 kilograms. We could compare it to 32 African elephants. Another curious fact is that, if we go back to the largest animals that inhabited this planet, the majestic dinosaurs, the whales are six times larger. 

Your heart weighs 2,000 kilograms, almost the size of a car, and pumps 230 liters of blood per beat over a total of 15,100 liters of blood that your entire circulatory system contains. His brain, on the other hand, is only 19 kilograms, 0.01% of his body weight. 

They are excellent swimmers, their usual speed is 22 km/h, although while they are feeding, their speed drops a lot, ranging between 2 and 6.5 km/h. But if they feel threatened, they can reach speeds close to 50 km/h. 

Despite its large size, you will be surprised to know that all its diet is based exclusively on a small shrimp-like animal called krill. This whale has between 55 and 80 furrows (ventral folds) parallel to its body and along its throat. These folds help to evacuate the water from the mouth after its great thrusts to feed itself, thus retaining, with this filtering system, the coveted Krill. In adulthood they can consume about 4 tons of krill a day. 

Their mating season begins in late autumn and lasts until late winter, with females giving birth after a gestation period of ten to twelve months. The calf weighs almost three tons and is about 8 m in length. Calves drink about three hundred and eighty liters of milk a day and gain about ninety kilograms in weight a day as well. They are the biggest babies in this world! 

Due to its size, speed and strength, this precious animal was not hunted for many years, this was due in large part to the lack of infrastructure of the boats that could not lift and remove its huge body from the water once hunted. 

Later, the arrival of the steamships marked their extermination with blood. Between 1930 and 1960 they were on the verge of extinction due to the intensive hunting that whalers carried out to obtain their oil. It was hunted mercilessly in all the seas of the Earth, accounting for only ten percent of the original population at the end of the 20th century. 

Except for the hand of man, this majestic animal has no natural predators. They tend to be attacked by killer whales or sharks, but, in most cases, their main threat is to be injured or killed in collisions with large boats. 

According to National Geographic, in 1966 the International Whaling Commission determined their protection, but since then their situation has only slightly improved. Currently, sadly, blue whales are classified as an endangered species on the Red List of the World Conservation Union. 

Fortunately, we can still observe the majesty of these animals diving!!! 

Although we do not have the pleasure of seeing them in the waters of Eivissa (Ibiza), since their route does not pass through our island, it is very common to observe the fin whale in winter, which I will talk about later. And, our beloved dolphins, who have been the protagonists of one of our previous blogs. 

Like every end of the year, our SCUBA IBIZA diving center organizes trips to different seas of the world to meet, enjoy and see different species in their habitat. But the experience that I will tell you next has not been with them. It happened in my beginnings as a diver. My destination: Sri Lanka. The best place to dive and swim with whales, due to the large number of specimens that tend to be concentrated in these Asian waters. 

The day was sunny, the sea was flat, perfect for a long-awaited dive and the whole group of divers was ready for the new adventure. With the equipment ready, we were getting ready to listen to the briefing and I remember that the explanation about how to swim with them caught my attention. The idea of ​​the possibility of a whale encounter was pleasantly shocking to me. 

Suddenly, the captain interrupted the conversation so that we all went to port side to see a whale passing by to greet us before the dive, the feeling was enormous and we had not yet submerged !! According to him, this specimen would measure about 18 meters. 

What I remember from that talk was that, mainly, we should try to dive and swim all on the same side of the whale. The reason was based on the fact that these animals having the eyes located laterally, do not have peripheral vision, in this way, if we distributed ourselves to each side, it would feel surrounded and could react abruptly and try to escape. On the other hand, although they are harmless creatures, a blow of so many tons of weight could cause an unwanted accident. He also told us that blue whales usually live alone or in pairs and that they could occasionally be seen in small groups, but that we would surely see only one specimen that day. 

An incredible experience that can hardly be put into words, I can only say that it was one of the best experiences I experienced in my life. 

Something else to tell is how loud they are. The first time I listened to them, I was astonished. Upon exiting the dive, I asked the guide if something was happening to the whale or if it was normal and he told me that blue whales emit different moans and types of grunts and that they can communicate with each other more than 1,500 kilometers away. It is believed that, in addition to using it for long-range underwater communication, they also use it to be able to navigate in the dark depths of the ocean. 

Whales can make calls of about 10 to 30 seconds in length, even four-note “songs” have been recorded that last about two minutes. Although many studies have been done, this type of sounds has never been observed in any other population, so it was concluded that this phenomenon may be an exclusive and unique characteristic of the blue whale. The reasons why they make these sounds are still unknown.
But in 1995 Richardson spoke of six possible reasons: 

  1. To maintain the interindividual distance, 
  1. For the recognition of the species, 
  1. For the transmission of contextual information (for example: feeding, alarm, courtship, etc.), 
  1. For the maintenance of social organization (for example: calls between males and females), 
  1. To report on topographic features 
  1. To report on the position of sources of possible prey. 

Unfortunately, today whales are mainly victims of indiscriminate hunting in some countries such as Japan, because their meat is used in cosmetic products and food supplements. And the terrible thing about this is that the methods used are inhumane. To kill them, harpoons with grenades are used that subject them to a slow and painful death. 

On the other hand, the threat against the species increases if we consider its low recovery capacity since it has long gestation periods (one year) and that they only give birth to one or two young per pregnancy. This is the reason why the whale population recovers much more slowly, compared to other populations of smaller animals and that they tend to spend less time and effort in their reproduction. 

As you read this message, a blue whale is surely resisting in the loneliness of the great blue to be hunted. Perhaps one day we can see these gigantic and majestic animals in freedom without frights, protected and cared for by all the countries of this planet. 

And then we will have shown that human creatures belong to a compassionate and intelligent race. 

Either from the shore or on a boat … 

Observe the oceans, fix your gaze on the sea, feel it, breathe … they provide us with half the oxygen we breathe … where legends come to life and reality becomes a fable. Unknown worlds, unknown stories, only guarded by a raging and defenseless sea. 

Carla Villari. 

References: 

  • National Geographic 
  • ABC Society 
  • Wikipedia 

The Blue Whale

The largest animal on the planet, with its 30 meters in length, its more than 100 tons, dominating the oceans with its majestic figure, we speak of the Balaenoptera musculus, better known as the blue whale, it can also be found with the name of fin whale blue. 

Although we do not know many of its facets, this can help to strengthen the legends that revolve around it. There are very varied myths and legends, but if there is something that all of them have in common, it is that they have always been considered as exceptional creatures. In ancient Greece they were the creatures that protected travelers and, both defines and whales, were sacred. 

Among the stories told on the high seas, one relates that our first ancestor traveled to New Zealand on the back of a blue whale and that from that moment they were considered powerful and supernatural creatures. 

Today we will talk about the Blue Whale, one of the most endangered species. Will we become aware of the preservation of this animal? Will we learn a little about his life? How can we help them? The hand of man makes this world unkind to them. 

Some interesting facts to get to know it. The largest blue whale on record was 33 meters long, the equivalent of three railroad cars, weighing 190,000 kilograms. We could compare it to 32 African elephants. Another curious fact is that, if we go back to the largest animals that inhabited this planet, the majestic dinosaurs, the whales are six times larger. 

Your heart weighs 2,000 kilograms, almost the size of a car, and pumps 230 liters of blood per beat over a total of 15,100 liters of blood that your entire circulatory system contains. His brain, on the other hand, is only 19 kilograms, 0.01% of his body weight. 

They are excellent swimmers, their usual speed is 22 km/h, although while they are feeding, their speed drops a lot, ranging between 2 and 6.5 km/h. But if they feel threatened, they can reach speeds close to 50 km/h. 

Despite its large size, you will be surprised to know that all its diet is based exclusively on a small shrimp-like animal called krill. This whale has between 55 and 80 furrows (ventral folds) parallel to its body and along its throat. These folds help to evacuate the water from the mouth after its great thrusts to feed itself, thus retaining, with this filtering system, the coveted Krill. In adulthood they can consume about 4 tons of krill a day. 

Their mating season begins in late autumn and lasts until late winter, with females giving birth after a gestation period of ten to twelve months. The calf weighs almost three tons and is about 8 m in length. Calves drink about three hundred and eighty liters of milk a day and gain about ninety kilograms in weight a day as well. They are the biggest babies in this world! 

Due to its size, speed and strength, this precious animal was not hunted for many years, this was due in large part to the lack of infrastructure of the boats that could not lift and remove its huge body from the water once hunted. 

Later, the arrival of the steamships marked their extermination with blood. Between 1930 and 1960 they were on the verge of extinction due to the intensive hunting that whalers carried out to obtain their oil. It was hunted mercilessly in all the seas of the Earth, accounting for only ten percent of the original population at the end of the 20th century. 

Except for the hand of man, this majestic animal has no natural predators. They tend to be attacked by killer whales or sharks, but, in most cases, their main threat is to be injured or killed in collisions with large boats. 

According to National Geographic, in 1966 the International Whaling Commission determined their protection, but since then their situation has only slightly improved. Currently, sadly, blue whales are classified as an endangered species on the Red List of the World Conservation Union. 

Fortunately, we can still observe the majesty of these animals diving!!! 

Although we do not have the pleasure of seeing them in the waters of Eivissa (Ibiza), since their route does not pass through our island, it is very common to observe the fin whale in winter, which I will talk about later. And, our beloved dolphins, who have been the protagonists of one of our previous blogs. 

Like every end of the year, our SCUBA IBIZA diving center organizes trips to different seas of the world to meet, enjoy and see different species in their habitat. But the experience that I will tell you next has not been with them. It happened in my beginnings as a diver. My destination: Sri Lanka. The best place to dive and swim with whales, due to the large number of specimens that tend to be concentrated in these Asian waters. 

The day was sunny, the sea was flat, perfect for a long-awaited dive and the whole group of divers was ready for the new adventure. With the equipment ready, we were getting ready to listen to the briefing and I remember that the explanation about how to swim with them caught my attention. The idea of ​​the possibility of a whale encounter was pleasantly shocking to me. 

Suddenly, the captain interrupted the conversation so that we all went to port side to see a whale passing by to greet us before the dive, the feeling was enormous and we had not yet submerged !! According to him, this specimen would measure about 18 meters. 

What I remember from that talk was that, mainly, we should try to dive and swim all on the same side of the whale. The reason was based on the fact that these animals having the eyes located laterally, do not have peripheral vision, in this way, if we distributed ourselves to each side, it would feel surrounded and could react abruptly and try to escape. On the other hand, although they are harmless creatures, a blow of so many tons of weight could cause an unwanted accident. He also told us that blue whales usually live alone or in pairs and that they could occasionally be seen in small groups, but that we would surely see only one specimen that day. 

An incredible experience that can hardly be put into words, I can only say that it was one of the best experiences I experienced in my life. 

Something else to tell is how loud they are. The first time I listened to them, I was astonished. Upon exiting the dive, I asked the guide if something was happening to the whale or if it was normal and he told me that blue whales emit different moans and types of grunts and that they can communicate with each other more than 1,500 kilometers away. It is believed that, in addition to using it for long-range underwater communication, they also use it to be able to navigate in the dark depths of the ocean. 

Whales can make calls of about 10 to 30 seconds in length, even four-note “songs” have been recorded that last about two minutes. Although many studies have been done, this type of sounds has never been observed in any other population, so it was concluded that this phenomenon may be an exclusive and unique characteristic of the blue whale. The reasons why they make these sounds are still unknown.
But in 1995 Richardson spoke of six possible reasons: 

  1. To maintain the interindividual distance, 
  1. For the recognition of the species, 
  1. For the transmission of contextual information (for example: feeding, alarm, courtship, etc.), 
  1. For the maintenance of social organization (for example: calls between males and females), 
  1. To report on topographic features 
  1. To report on the position of sources of possible prey. 

Unfortunately, today whales are mainly victims of indiscriminate hunting in some countries such as Japan, because their meat is used in cosmetic products and food supplements. And the terrible thing about this is that the methods used are inhumane. To kill them, harpoons with grenades are used that subject them to a slow and painful death. 

On the other hand, the threat against the species increases if we consider its low recovery capacity since it has long gestation periods (one year) and that they only give birth to one or two young per pregnancy. This is the reason why the whale population recovers much more slowly, compared to other populations of smaller animals and that they tend to spend less time and effort in their reproduction. 

As you read this message, a blue whale is surely resisting in the loneliness of the great blue to be hunted. Perhaps one day we can see these gigantic and majestic animals in freedom without frights, protected and cared for by all the countries of this planet. 

And then we will have shown that human creatures belong to a compassionate and intelligent race. 

Either from the shore or on a boat … 

Observe the oceans, fix your gaze on the sea, feel it, breathe … they provide us with half the oxygen we breathe … where legends come to life and reality becomes a fable. Unknown worlds, unknown stories, only guarded by a raging and defenseless sea. 

Carla Villari. 

References: 

  • National Geographic 
  • ABC Society 
  • Wikipedia 

The Blue Whale

The largest animal on the planet, with its 30 meters in length, its more than 100 tons, dominating the oceans with its majestic figure, we speak of the Balaenoptera musculus, better known as the blue whale, it can also be found with the name of fin whale blue. 

Although we do not know many of its facets, this can help to strengthen the legends that revolve around it. There are very varied myths and legends, but if there is something that all of them have in common, it is that they have always been considered as exceptional creatures. In ancient Greece they were the creatures that protected travelers and, both defines and whales, were sacred. 

Among the stories told on the high seas, one relates that our first ancestor traveled to New Zealand on the back of a blue whale and that from that moment they were considered powerful and supernatural creatures. 

Today we will talk about the Blue Whale, one of the most endangered species. Will we become aware of the preservation of this animal? Will we learn a little about his life? How can we help them? The hand of man makes this world unkind to them. 

Some interesting facts to get to know it. The largest blue whale on record was 33 meters long, the equivalent of three railroad cars, weighing 190,000 kilograms. We could compare it to 32 African elephants. Another curious fact is that, if we go back to the largest animals that inhabited this planet, the majestic dinosaurs, the whales are six times larger. 

Your heart weighs 2,000 kilograms, almost the size of a car, and pumps 230 liters of blood per beat over a total of 15,100 liters of blood that your entire circulatory system contains. His brain, on the other hand, is only 19 kilograms, 0.01% of his body weight. 

They are excellent swimmers, their usual speed is 22 km/h, although while they are feeding, their speed drops a lot, ranging between 2 and 6.5 km/h. But if they feel threatened, they can reach speeds close to 50 km/h. 

Despite its large size, you will be surprised to know that all its diet is based exclusively on a small shrimp-like animal called krill. This whale has between 55 and 80 furrows (ventral folds) parallel to its body and along its throat. These folds help to evacuate the water from the mouth after its great thrusts to feed itself, thus retaining, with this filtering system, the coveted Krill. In adulthood they can consume about 4 tons of krill a day. 

Their mating season begins in late autumn and lasts until late winter, with females giving birth after a gestation period of ten to twelve months. The calf weighs almost three tons and is about 8 m in length. Calves drink about three hundred and eighty liters of milk a day and gain about ninety kilograms in weight a day as well. They are the biggest babies in this world! 

Due to its size, speed and strength, this precious animal was not hunted for many years, this was due in large part to the lack of infrastructure of the boats that could not lift and remove its huge body from the water once hunted. 

Later, the arrival of the steamships marked their extermination with blood. Between 1930 and 1960 they were on the verge of extinction due to the intensive hunting that whalers carried out to obtain their oil. It was hunted mercilessly in all the seas of the Earth, accounting for only ten percent of the original population at the end of the 20th century. 

Except for the hand of man, this majestic animal has no natural predators. They tend to be attacked by killer whales or sharks, but, in most cases, their main threat is to be injured or killed in collisions with large boats. 

According to National Geographic, in 1966 the International Whaling Commission determined their protection, but since then their situation has only slightly improved. Currently, sadly, blue whales are classified as an endangered species on the Red List of the World Conservation Union. 

Fortunately, we can still observe the majesty of these animals diving!!! 

Although we do not have the pleasure of seeing them in the waters of Eivissa (Ibiza), since their route does not pass through our island, it is very common to observe the fin whale in winter, which I will talk about later. And, our beloved dolphins, who have been the protagonists of one of our previous blogs. 

Like every end of the year, our SCUBA IBIZA diving center organizes trips to different seas of the world to meet, enjoy and see different species in their habitat. But the experience that I will tell you next has not been with them. It happened in my beginnings as a diver. My destination: Sri Lanka. The best place to dive and swim with whales, due to the large number of specimens that tend to be concentrated in these Asian waters. 

The day was sunny, the sea was flat, perfect for a long-awaited dive and the whole group of divers was ready for the new adventure. With the equipment ready, we were getting ready to listen to the briefing and I remember that the explanation about how to swim with them caught my attention. The idea of ​​the possibility of a whale encounter was pleasantly shocking to me. 

Suddenly, the captain interrupted the conversation so that we all went to port side to see a whale passing by to greet us before the dive, the feeling was enormous and we had not yet submerged !! According to him, this specimen would measure about 18 meters. 

What I remember from that talk was that, mainly, we should try to dive and swim all on the same side of the whale. The reason was based on the fact that these animals having the eyes located laterally, do not have peripheral vision, in this way, if we distributed ourselves to each side, it would feel surrounded and could react abruptly and try to escape. On the other hand, although they are harmless creatures, a blow of so many tons of weight could cause an unwanted accident. He also told us that blue whales usually live alone or in pairs and that they could occasionally be seen in small groups, but that we would surely see only one specimen that day. 

An incredible experience that can hardly be put into words, I can only say that it was one of the best experiences I experienced in my life. 

Something else to tell is how loud they are. The first time I listened to them, I was astonished. Upon exiting the dive, I asked the guide if something was happening to the whale or if it was normal and he told me that blue whales emit different moans and types of grunts and that they can communicate with each other more than 1,500 kilometers away. It is believed that, in addition to using it for long-range underwater communication, they also use it to be able to navigate in the dark depths of the ocean. 

Whales can make calls of about 10 to 30 seconds in length, even four-note “songs” have been recorded that last about two minutes. Although many studies have been done, this type of sounds has never been observed in any other population, so it was concluded that this phenomenon may be an exclusive and unique characteristic of the blue whale. The reasons why they make these sounds are still unknown.
But in 1995 Richardson spoke of six possible reasons: 

  1. To maintain the interindividual distance, 
  1. For the recognition of the species, 
  1. For the transmission of contextual information (for example: feeding, alarm, courtship, etc.), 
  1. For the maintenance of social organization (for example: calls between males and females), 
  1. To report on topographic features 
  1. To report on the position of sources of possible prey. 

Unfortunately, today whales are mainly victims of indiscriminate hunting in some countries such as Japan, because their meat is used in cosmetic products and food supplements. And the terrible thing about this is that the methods used are inhumane. To kill them, harpoons with grenades are used that subject them to a slow and painful death. 

On the other hand, the threat against the species increases if we consider its low recovery capacity since it has long gestation periods (one year) and that they only give birth to one or two young per pregnancy. This is the reason why the whale population recovers much more slowly, compared to other populations of smaller animals and that they tend to spend less time and effort in their reproduction. 

As you read this message, a blue whale is surely resisting in the loneliness of the great blue to be hunted. Perhaps one day we can see these gigantic and majestic animals in freedom without frights, protected and cared for by all the countries of this planet. 

And then we will have shown that human creatures belong to a compassionate and intelligent race. 

Either from the shore or on a boat … 

Observe the oceans, fix your gaze on the sea, feel it, breathe … they provide us with half the oxygen we breathe … where legends come to life and reality becomes a fable. Unknown worlds, unknown stories, only guarded by a raging and defenseless sea. 

Carla Villari. 

References: 

  • National Geographic 
  • ABC Society 
  • Wikipedia 

The Blue Whale

The largest animal on the planet, with its 30 meters in length, its more than 100 tons, dominating the oceans with its majestic figure, we speak of the Balaenoptera musculus, better known as the blue whale, it can also be found with the name of fin whale blue. 

Although we do not know many of its facets, this can help to strengthen the legends that revolve around it. There are very varied myths and legends, but if there is something that all of them have in common, it is that they have always been considered as exceptional creatures. In ancient Greece they were the creatures that protected travelers and, both defines and whales, were sacred. 

Among the stories told on the high seas, one relates that our first ancestor traveled to New Zealand on the back of a blue whale and that from that moment they were considered powerful and supernatural creatures. 

Today we will talk about the Blue Whale, one of the most endangered species. Will we become aware of the preservation of this animal? Will we learn a little about his life? How can we help them? The hand of man makes this world unkind to them. 

Some interesting facts to get to know it. The largest blue whale on record was 33 meters long, the equivalent of three railroad cars, weighing 190,000 kilograms. We could compare it to 32 African elephants. Another curious fact is that, if we go back to the largest animals that inhabited this planet, the majestic dinosaurs, the whales are six times larger. 

Your heart weighs 2,000 kilograms, almost the size of a car, and pumps 230 liters of blood per beat over a total of 15,100 liters of blood that your entire circulatory system contains. His brain, on the other hand, is only 19 kilograms, 0.01% of his body weight. 

They are excellent swimmers, their usual speed is 22 km/h, although while they are feeding, their speed drops a lot, ranging between 2 and 6.5 km/h. But if they feel threatened, they can reach speeds close to 50 km/h. 

Despite its large size, you will be surprised to know that all its diet is based exclusively on a small shrimp-like animal called krill. This whale has between 55 and 80 furrows (ventral folds) parallel to its body and along its throat. These folds help to evacuate the water from the mouth after its great thrusts to feed itself, thus retaining, with this filtering system, the coveted Krill. In adulthood they can consume about 4 tons of krill a day. 

Their mating season begins in late autumn and lasts until late winter, with females giving birth after a gestation period of ten to twelve months. The calf weighs almost three tons and is about 8 m in length. Calves drink about three hundred and eighty liters of milk a day and gain about ninety kilograms in weight a day as well. They are the biggest babies in this world! 

Due to its size, speed and strength, this precious animal was not hunted for many years, this was due in large part to the lack of infrastructure of the boats that could not lift and remove its huge body from the water once hunted. 

Later, the arrival of the steamships marked their extermination with blood. Between 1930 and 1960 they were on the verge of extinction due to the intensive hunting that whalers carried out to obtain their oil. It was hunted mercilessly in all the seas of the Earth, accounting for only ten percent of the original population at the end of the 20th century. 

Except for the hand of man, this majestic animal has no natural predators. They tend to be attacked by killer whales or sharks, but, in most cases, their main threat is to be injured or killed in collisions with large boats. 

According to National Geographic, in 1966 the International Whaling Commission determined their protection, but since then their situation has only slightly improved. Currently, sadly, blue whales are classified as an endangered species on the Red List of the World Conservation Union. 

Fortunately, we can still observe the majesty of these animals diving!!! 

Although we do not have the pleasure of seeing them in the waters of Eivissa (Ibiza), since their route does not pass through our island, it is very common to observe the fin whale in winter, which I will talk about later. And, our beloved dolphins, who have been the protagonists of one of our previous blogs. 

Like every end of the year, our SCUBA IBIZA diving center organizes trips to different seas of the world to meet, enjoy and see different species in their habitat. But the experience that I will tell you next has not been with them. It happened in my beginnings as a diver. My destination: Sri Lanka. The best place to dive and swim with whales, due to the large number of specimens that tend to be concentrated in these Asian waters. 

The day was sunny, the sea was flat, perfect for a long-awaited dive and the whole group of divers was ready for the new adventure. With the equipment ready, we were getting ready to listen to the briefing and I remember that the explanation about how to swim with them caught my attention. The idea of ​​the possibility of a whale encounter was pleasantly shocking to me. 

Suddenly, the captain interrupted the conversation so that we all went to port side to see a whale passing by to greet us before the dive, the feeling was enormous and we had not yet submerged !! According to him, this specimen would measure about 18 meters. 

What I remember from that talk was that, mainly, we should try to dive and swim all on the same side of the whale. The reason was based on the fact that these animals having the eyes located laterally, do not have peripheral vision, in this way, if we distributed ourselves to each side, it would feel surrounded and could react abruptly and try to escape. On the other hand, although they are harmless creatures, a blow of so many tons of weight could cause an unwanted accident. He also told us that blue whales usually live alone or in pairs and that they could occasionally be seen in small groups, but that we would surely see only one specimen that day. 

An incredible experience that can hardly be put into words, I can only say that it was one of the best experiences I experienced in my life. 

Something else to tell is how loud they are. The first time I listened to them, I was astonished. Upon exiting the dive, I asked the guide if something was happening to the whale or if it was normal and he told me that blue whales emit different moans and types of grunts and that they can communicate with each other more than 1,500 kilometers away. It is believed that, in addition to using it for long-range underwater communication, they also use it to be able to navigate in the dark depths of the ocean. 

Whales can make calls of about 10 to 30 seconds in length, even four-note “songs” have been recorded that last about two minutes. Although many studies have been done, this type of sounds has never been observed in any other population, so it was concluded that this phenomenon may be an exclusive and unique characteristic of the blue whale. The reasons why they make these sounds are still unknown.
But in 1995 Richardson spoke of six possible reasons: 

  1. To maintain the interindividual distance, 
  1. For the recognition of the species, 
  1. For the transmission of contextual information (for example: feeding, alarm, courtship, etc.), 
  1. For the maintenance of social organization (for example: calls between males and females), 
  1. To report on topographic features 
  1. To report on the position of sources of possible prey. 

Unfortunately, today whales are mainly victims of indiscriminate hunting in some countries such as Japan, because their meat is used in cosmetic products and food supplements. And the terrible thing about this is that the methods used are inhumane. To kill them, harpoons with grenades are used that subject them to a slow and painful death. 

On the other hand, the threat against the species increases if we consider its low recovery capacity since it has long gestation periods (one year) and that they only give birth to one or two young per pregnancy. This is the reason why the whale population recovers much more slowly, compared to other populations of smaller animals and that they tend to spend less time and effort in their reproduction. 

As you read this message, a blue whale is surely resisting in the loneliness of the great blue to be hunted. Perhaps one day we can see these gigantic and majestic animals in freedom without frights, protected and cared for by all the countries of this planet. 

And then we will have shown that human creatures belong to a compassionate and intelligent race. 

Either from the shore or on a boat … 

Observe the oceans, fix your gaze on the sea, feel it, breathe … they provide us with half the oxygen we breathe … where legends come to life and reality becomes a fable. Unknown worlds, unknown stories, only guarded by a raging and defenseless sea. 

Carla Villari. 

References: 

  • National Geographic 
  • ABC Society 
  • Wikipedia 
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