blue whale

The blue whale is the largest animal ever to have lived on Earth. It's even bigger than the enormous dinosaurs that lived over 65 million years ago! Blue whales migrate long distances, traveling alone or in small groups called pods. These colossal creatures breed in warm southern waters during the winter and feed in polar seas during the spring and summer.

Scientific name: Balaenoptera musculus
Size: 80 feet long Weight: 120 tons
Habitat: near the surface of all oceans
Diet: tiny, shrimp-like organisms called krill
Characteristics: blue-gray skin with light spots on sides and back, small dorsal fin, long, thin flippers
Significance: endangered because of overfishing
Cool fact: whales must surface to breathe through their blowholes, spouting water up to 30 ft

Image credits: courtesy of Mike Johnson.