Blue Whales

Scientific Name:  Balaenoptera musculus

When is the best time to view Blue Whales in Monterey Bay and where is the best viewing?

Blue whales are most likely to be spotted in Monterey Bay in summer or fall. They feed off the California coast from June through October. During these months, about two thousand blue whales swim in the waters off the central coast including in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Compared to a total population estimate of 10,000 whales, the California central coast has the largest concentration of blue whales in the world.

Blue whales tend to swim and feed away from shore causing rare sightings from land. The most likely way to view blue whales is by embarking on a whale-watching cruise. Several whale-watching cruises are available in Moss Landing and Monterey.


About Blue Whales

Blue whales appear true blue underwater, but are blue-gray in color when seen above the surface. They have skin-folds under their jaw that can expand, which increases the size of its mouth. Blue whales feed on tiny, shrimp-like organisms called krill. These whales mainly catch their food by diving to depths of about 3/10 of a mile. Each mouthful can hold over 1,000 pounds of water and plankton or krill.

The blue whale has 300-400 baleen plates hanging from its upper jaw. This baleen serves as a strainer when the whale gulps a mouthful of krill and water. The whale pushes its tongue against the baleen to force the water out of its mouth and then swallows the remaining krill.

When the blue whale surfaces to breathe, it exhales air out of its blowhole in a cloud of pressurized vapor that rises vertically up to almost 30 feet.

Although we can’t hear them, blue whales are one of the loudest animals on the planet. They communicate with each other by using a series of low frequency pulses, groans, and moans.


Blue Whale Fun Facts

  • Largest creature on Earth; as long as 20 train cars and as heavy as a space shuttle
  • The tongue of a blue whale can weigh as much as an elephant while their heart weighs as much as a car
  • Swim at about 5 mph, but can accelerate to more than 20 mph
  • A newborn baby blue whale weighs 6,000 pounds and is about 25 feet long
  • A baby blue whale gains about 200 pounds daily for the first year by drinking 100 gallons of its mother’s milk each day
  • Oldest blue whale found was 110 years old
  • Use their blubber as food supply when they can’t feed

Habitat: The world’s oceans. They spend the summer feeding in polar waters and migrate towards the equator in the winter. 

Length: 82 – 105 feet

Weight: Up to 400,000 pounds (200 tons which is roughly equal to 30 elephants)

Diet: Marine organisms, shrimplike animals called krill. Adult blue whales consume up to 8,000 pounds of krill a day.

Lifespan: 80 – 90 years

Reproduction: Females breed only once every three years; gestation is between 11–12 months; there is usually only one calf; calves nurse 7-8 months