The Blue whale vs human contest is based on size, longevity, and intelligence. Despite the differences in their habitats, some interesting comparisons can be made between them.
In terms of size, blue whales are known to be the largest creatures living on Earth. This whale species is estimated to grow to lengths of 80 feet and weigh up to 200 tons. Blue whales also have a remarkable life span of more than 70 years!
On the other hand, human beings are not as huge but are known for their intellect. So, how do we compete against blue whales regarding size, intelligence, and longevity?
Similarities Between Blue Whales and Humans
Although humans and Blue whales don’t share a common ancestry and live in different habitats, they have some similarities.
1. Similar Vertebrate Anatomy
Both Blue whales and humans possess a spinal cord, which is synonymous with vertebrates. The Spinal column in both organisms is well adapted to support their bodies. It also gives structure and protection to the nervous system originating from the brain.
The spinal column in both organisms features a network of interconnected vertebrae. The human spine has 33 vertebrae, while the Blue whale is estimated to have 55 to 70 vertebrae in the spinal column.
It is worth mentioning that the size of vertebrae in the two organisms varies tremendously owing to the difference in their body sizes.
2. Mammalian Traits
Humans and Blue Whales are both mammals and exhibit mammalian traits. For instance, blue whales are warm-blooded, meaning they can regulate their internal body temperatures. This is what allows them to survive in cold aquatic environments.
Female Blue whales have mammary glands for lactating purposes. They nourish their young ones on breast milk for nearly half a year after giving birth.
Additionally, they are born with hairs around their mouths. These hairs eventually shed off as they age.
3. Parental Care
Blue whales provide and protect their young ones just like humans do. Female Blue Whales nurse their calves by providing milk and protection from potential predators.
The mother protects her calf by keeping it close to her and shielding it from any attacks by predators. They use their massive bodies to physically block any threats from reaching their offspring.
The mother whales also nourish their calves for up to 7 months until they are about 52 feet long before weaning starts. After seven months, the calf’ starts learning how to forage from the mother and slowly transitions its diet to include Krill.
Blue Whale Vs. Humans: Our Differences
The contest for size between humans and blue whales is one that humans cannot win. According to Wikipedia, the estimated average height of a mature male is about 171cm, equivalent to 5ft, 7 inches. The woman is about 159 cm, 5ft, 3 inches tall.
On the other hand, the estimated size of a mature blue whale is about 80 to 100 feet. The most enormous blue whale caught on record was a female measuring 110 feet! This means that an average blue whale equals the length of 6 medium-sized cars or three student buses with a capacity of 40 passengers.
The blue whale also trumps humans when it comes to weight. Weighing 200 tons on average, this beast is about 2,920 times heavier than humans, who have an average weight of 137 pounds.
The whale also has some of the largest body organs compared to any living animal. For instance, the blue whale’s eyes are estimated to be the size of a dinner! While this might seem like an overkill, these huge eyes are vital for its survival.
Blue whales feed on Krill, tiny organisms found in the bottom of the ocean. Having big eyes is an adaptation that allows them to see clearly under murky water.
Blue whales also have large, bumpy tongues weighing about 2.5 tons to aid feeding. No other living organism has such a large tongue. The bumps on their tongues help filter out Krill from water while feeding.
Another stark comparison between the two is the penis size. While humans have an average penis length of 6 inches, the estimated average length of a blue whale penis is about 16 feet long. Given their sheer size, such an extended penis is ideal for successful procreation.
While the human heart is the size of a fist and hardly weighs a pound, the blue whale’s heart is estimated to weigh about 400 pounds. Their large body sizes require a big heart to pump blood under high pressure.
The blue whale has the highest blood pressure of all living animals. Their heart beats at a slower rate of 10 beats per minute than a human’s, which beats almost 70 times in the same timeframe. With one beat, the blue whale’s heart pumps about 20 gallons of blood compared to 5 quarts pumped by the human heart.
Blue whales have a relatively higher life expectancy than humans. Even with our advanced healthcare, the UN estimates the human expectancy today to be about 72 years, somewhat lower than blue whales.
According to researchers, blue whales have a life expectancy of about 80 to 90 years. However, the exact life span of these creatures is determined by factors like environmental conditions, food availability, and threats from human activities like whaling. The oldest blue whale is estimated to have been 100 years old!
Blue whales attain sexual maturity between 5 and 15 years of age but have lower reproductive rates than humans. On average, a mature whale will give birth to one calf in a span of 2 to three years. The upside of this low reproduction rate is that each calf gets enough parental care, increasing its chances of survival.
Blue whales’ high life expectancy can also be attributed to the limited number of natural predators. Due to their massive sizes, blue whales hardly get preyed upon by other animals in their habitats. Apart from humans, Oracs are the only predators known to prey on adult blue whales, though it hardly happens.
Blue whales have adapted to living in open oceans with minimal threats and environmental stress. Research has proven that constant exposure to stress has detrimental effects on the lifespan of organisms. Blue whales can age beyond their life expectancy by staying away from stressors.
Blue whales have bigger brains than humans. But does that mean they are more intelligent than us?
Well, they aren’t. Despite being more intelligent than most other animals, blue whales don’t possess the same cognitive abilities as humans. Their intelligence focuses more on skills and behaviors necessary for survival in marine habitats.
Research has proven that blue whales have an amazing long-term memory. These marine creatures remember their former group members even after years of separation. Their memory also allows them to return to their exact breed spots year after season.
Blue whales are also known to have an intelligent communication system. They use low-frequency song-like sounds that can travel vast distances to communicate with each other while hunting and socializing. While their communication is advanced compared to other animals, their complexity and depth are inferior to humans.
They also have an advanced navigation system that uses the Earth’s magnetic field and environmental cues. Researchers believe Blue whales are also sensitive to Earth’s magnetic field variations. They rely on these cues to orient themselves and determine a sense of direction in their migration journey.
Their feeding habits also involve a creative foraging technique. They use their baleen pallets to filter small prey like Krill from the water flowing through their mouth.
Are Blue Whales Endangered Species?
While blue whales are giants, well adapted to their environment, their species is under threat of extinction. Scientists estimate the current population of blue whales to be between 10,000 and 25,000. The two commonly cited reasons for their dwindling number are;
Threat from Human Activities
Human activities like commercial whaling, pollution, and environmental degradation adversely affect the population of these creatures.
While an international ban on whaling exists, some countries continue vile practices with false justification. Traditionally, blue whales have been hunted for their blubber and meat.
Ship strikes also cause a grave threat to the population of blue whales. Collisions with large vessels often leave these creatures with fatal injuries.
Changes to oceanic temperature due to global warming affect the availability and distribution of whale food. Additionally, increased Carbon iv oxide in the atmosphere leads to acidification of ocean water.
While this might not affect the blue whales themselves, it dramatically reduces the availability of Krill, their primary food. With a limited food supply, these whales are often forced to migrate to other regions, exposing themselves to predators and human interference.
The Blue whale vs human contrast highlights nature’s diversity. While humans are the planet’s most intelligent beings, whales hold the record for size and longevity. Exploring our differences and similarities is crucial for the survival of both species. The next time you encounter a blue whale, I hope you will take a moment to soak in all their awesomeness.