How big is a whale compared to a human? If you’ve recently watched a documentary about whales or are planning to go on a whale-watching adventure, it’s natural to be curious how these majestic creatures compare in size to humans.
Whales have long held our fascination with their remarkable size and presence in the ocean’s vast depths.
As one of the largest and most intriguing sea creatures, understanding the scale of whales about a human helps us appreciate their immense size and inspiring nature. We’ll start our discussion with a table comparing humans to different types of whales.
How Big Is A Whale Compared To A Human? Comparison Table
|Human||Blue Whale||Humpback Whale||Sperm Whale||Gray Whale||Killer Whale (Orca)|
|Tongue size||About 4 inches||About 5 feet||About 10 feet||About 7 feet||About 5 feet||About 4-6 feet|
|weight||Around 137-187 lbs||Up to 200 tons||Around 25-40 tons||Around 40-50 tons||Approximately 30-40 tons||Around 8,000-12,000 lbs|
|Length||About 5.6 feet||About 5.6 feet||About 60 feet||About 67 feet||About 49 feet||About 32 feet|
|Heart size||About the size of a fist||About the size of a small car||Size of a small car||Approximately the size of a small car||About the size of a small car||About the size of a large dog|
|Size of the newborn||Around 18-22 inches||About 23 feet||About 10-15 feet||About 13-16 feet||About 15 feet||About 7-8 feet|
While humans have a relatively small tongue, the Blue Whale’s tongue can reach an astounding length of up to 5 feet, comparable to a small car’s size.
This vast difference in tongue size showcases these majestic creatures’ sheer scale and grandeur. Humans’ weight typically ranges from around 137 to 187 lbs. In stark contrast, the Blue Whale is an absolute heavyweight, weighing up to 200 tons.
To put this into perspective, the weight of a single Blue Whale can exceed the combined weight of approximately 1,000 adult humans.
The average human length is around 5.6 feet, a modest height compared to the colossal Blue Whale. These magnificent creatures can reach lengths of up to 100 feet, making them one of the largest animals on the planet.
Regarding heart size, there is a huge difference between humans and Blue Whales. While the human heart is roughly the size of a fist, the heart of a Blue Whale can measure up to the size of a small car.
Another area where the difference in size becomes evident is in newborns. Human newborns typically measure around 18-22 inches. However, a newborn Blue Whale, for instance, can measure up to a staggering 23 feet long.
Humpback Whale calves are also quite large, ranging from 10 to 15 feet long. Likewise, Sperm Whale calves measure about 13-16 feet long, Gray Whale calves are around 15 feet long, and Killer Whale (Orca) calves measure approximately 7-8 feet long.
Whales Are Divided Into Two Main Groups
There are two main groups of whales: baleen whales and toothed whales. Baleen whales, which include species like humpbacks and blue whales, have unique fibrous plates called baleen in their mouths instead of teeth.
These baleen plates serve as a filtration system, allowing the whales to filter out and consume vast quantities of krill, plankton, and crustaceans.
On the other hand, toothed whales such as orcas, belugas, and sperm whales have a set of teeth that enable them to prey on larger animals like fish and squid.
These teeth are sharp and well-adapted for catching and tearing their prey. Toothed whales are known for their hunting prowess and often work together in coordinated groups to capture their desired target.
They rely on their sharp senses, particularly echolocation, to locate and track their prey in the ocean’s vast depths.
Dolphins, including porpoises, are also classified as whales due to their close genetic relationship with toothed whales.
While dolphins may differ in size and appearance from their larger relatives, they share similar characteristics and behaviors. These intelligent creatures have teeth like other toothed whales and exhibit similar hunting strategies.
10 Interesting Facts About Whales
- Whales are global travelers, migrating thousands of miles annually for food and breeding grounds.
- The colossal Blue Whale, Earth’s largest creature, is bigger than the largest dinosaur.
- Humpback Whales are renowned for their complex and haunting songs.
- Sperm Whales are the ocean’s deepest divers, plumbing the depths in search of giant squid.
- Whales share a common ancestor with hippos
- Fossil evidence suggests that some prehistoric whales had legs.
- Only male Narwhals have a tusk that develops from a tooth
- Killer whales are dolphins
- During their annual migration from tropical breeding grounds to the Antarctic, humpback whales in the Southern Hemisphere rely on their stored fat reserves for approximately 5.5 to 7.5 months.
- Orcas, or Killer Whales, live in close-knit family units led by the eldest female, making them among the most socially sophisticated animals.
How Fast Can Whales Swim?
Whales are known for their remarkable swimming abilities, with the capacity to reach impressive speeds of over 20 miles per hour for sustained periods.
However, in exceptional cases, certain species of whales can exceed even higher velocities, surpassing the 30-mile-per-hour mark.
Notably, orcas can reach up to 34.8 miles per hour, while fin whales can soar through the water at an astonishing rate of 47 miles per hour.
Despite these remarkable capabilities, a natural limitation prevents dolphins and smaller cetaceans from swimming at faster speeds – cavitation.
Cavitation occurs when the pressure on a moving object, such as a dolphin swimming at high speeds, decreases rapidly, forming bubbles that collapse with great force.
For dolphins, traveling at speeds exceeding 34 miles per hour becomes excruciatingly painful due to the intense pressure changes caused by cavitation.
Consequently, this natural upper bound on speed restricts dolphins and other whale species from maintaining high velocities for extended periods.
While they may achieve impressive bursts of acceleration, sustained high-speed swimming is not feasible due to the discomfort caused by cavitation.
What Happens To The Body Of A Whale After It Dies?
Following a whale’s death, decay starts immediately as the internal organs decompose. As a result, the deceased animal expands due to gas accumulation and occasionally rises to the ocean’s surface for sharks and seabirds to scavenge.
Over time, the colossal oceanic creature will gradually sink, eventually settling on the seabed. It’s when the cascaras are called a whale fall.
These whale falls serve as a source of sustenance for an entire ecosystem of deep-sea organisms, ranging from large scavengers to minuscule bacteria.
How Do Whales Sleep?
Sleeping patterns and behaviors differ across species, with varying lengths of sleep observed.
Whales can use different methods and positions for sleeping, such as resting quietly in the water horizontally or vertically or sleeping while slowly swimming alongside other pod members or in small groups.
Interestingly, dolphins in captivity have been observed sleeping at the bottom of their tanks. On the other hand, Humpback whales have been seen resting motionless on the ocean’s surface while they sleep.
However, they cannot sleep for more than 30 minutes, as extended inactivity duration may cause their body temperature to drop.
Whales engage in a unique sleeping pattern where half of their brain is “shut off,” and one eye remains closed. This behavior maintains their awareness of potential predators or threats that may approach.
Additionally, this sleeping pattern helps them remember to breathe at the right time. This phenomenon is common in various species of dolphins, which can sleep for 2-4 hours at a time.
Interestingly, some dolphins sleep for approximately 33% of the day, while the larger sperm whale is estimated to sleep for only 7%.
How big is a whale compared to a human? It is clear that whales are truly massive creatures when compared to humans. The sheer size and scale of these marine mammals is mind-boggling.
From the colossal blue whale, which can reach lengths of up to 100 feet and weigh up to 200 tons, to the smaller but still impressive orca or killer whale, which can grow up to 30 feet long and weigh up to 10 tons, it is clear that whales far surpass humans in terms of size.
While humans may be small in comparison, our fascination with whales grows as we learn more about these magnificent creatures.