Meeting the largest animal to have ever lived

The Blue Whale

It is impossible to not launch into a rolling list of mind blowing facts when talking about Blue whales. A heart the size of a small car. Their tongue, the weight of an elephant. Their major artery so big that you could swim down it!  We could go on and on… 

But none of these facts prepare you for seeing them in real life! 

Blue whales can be found in all oceans except the Arctic Ocean. Here in Kaikoura there is the possibility to see Blue whales at anytime of the year, however the majority of our sightings tend to peak around January through to March. 

Seeing them from the air is arguably one of the best ways to view these truly enormous beings, giving you a true David Attenborough experience! 

 

    

 

Growing up to 30 metres long and weighing in at around 150 tonnes you expect them to be big, however they are also surprisingly slender. Their mottled blue-grey appears light blue underwater and the colour truly is striking. 

Preferring a solitary life, you may have noticed Blue whales popping up in memes on social media recently promoting social distancing during the Covid 19 lockdown. From time to time however, they will aggregate for breeding or foraging. Often in Kaikoura they may also have a calf in tow too.

Their surface behaviour is very different to that of a Sperm whale or Humpback whale. Typically they will be on the surface for just 3 breaths before submerging down into the depths for an extended period of time. They are fast swimmers, which helped them deter hunters during the early whaling era. However as time progressed and other whales species number’s depleted, the ships were also becoming bigger and faster and it wasn’t long before they too faced the same fate as their predecessors.

But don’t be blue, recent evidence shows that the Blue whales of the coast of New Zealand are beginning to make a great comeback and this can be supported by our sighting data too. 

 

Everyone knows that the Blue whales are the largest animals on earth, but why?

 

It is likely that the majority of Blue whales we encounter on our flights could in fact be Pygmy Blue whales… a surprising name for something that still reaches around 28m in length, so only a tad smaller than the true Blue. Although it is believed the true also known as Antarctic Blues could migrate through New Zealand too. 

Whether it’s is a pygmy or a true blue there are definite bonuses to being large! For instance, it can make it easier to travel long distances. When your diet almost exclusively consists of consuming unimaginable amounts of one of the smallest living things on earth, that being krill, then being able to travel from one feeding ground to another is essential.

From the largest cetacean to one of the smallest, Kaikoura really is a true marine mammal mecca and there is a real thrill in never knowing what you may see on each flight. We look forward to the day we can get back out over the deep blue, but for now we will continue to share with you our photos, stories and knowledge and hope to see you all soon!

Have you seen Blue whales whilst out on a tour with us, we’d love to see your photos too!

Posted by South Pacific Helicopters on April 06, 2020