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Blue Whale

            Abstract The Blue whale is the largest creature of the sea, in fact, it is the largest creature known to man. Contrary to what most people think, even though Blue whales live in the sea, they are mammals. They breathe air, have their babies born alive and can live anywhere from 30 to 70 years. The Blue whale is a baleen whale, and instead of having teeth, Blue whales have around 300-400 baleen plates in their mouths. They fall under the category of the rorquals, which are the largest of the baleen family. The scientific name of the Blue whale is, Balsenoptera musculus. Key Words: Balaenoptera musculus, Suborder Mysticeti, balaenoptera intermedia, balaenoptera brevicauds, baleen whale, rorqual, calf, sulfur bottom, Sibbald's Rorqual, Great Northern Rorqual, gulpers, blowholes, blubber, oil, keratin, krill, copepods, plankton, orcas, endangered Introduction Whales are separated into two groups, the baleen and the toothed whales. The blue whale is the largest baleen whale and the largest animal that ever lived on Earth, including the largest dinosaurs. Baleen are rows of coarse, bristle-like fibers used to strain plankton from the water. Baleen is made of keratin, the same material as our fingernails. They live in pods, the have two blowholes. The blue whale has a 2-14 inch (5-30cm) thick layer of blubber. Blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) are baleen whales (Suborder Mysticeti). They are one of 76 species and are marine mammals. Background The Blue whale is called a "rorqual", a Norwegian word for "furrow" referring to the pleated grooves running from its chin to its naval. The pleated throat grooves allow the Blue whale's throat to expand during the huge intake of water during filter feeding; they can "hold 1,000 tons or more of food and water when fully expanded" (Small 1971). Blue whales have 50-70 throat grooves. Blue whales grow up to about 80 feet (25m) long on average, weighing about 120 tons.

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