These blue whale pictures don't really do justice to the vast size of these creatures. They measure 70 to 98 feet long and weigh about 160 tons, making them the largest creature on earth -- ever. The heart alone weighs 1300 pounds, and at birth a blue whale calf weighs about 6000 pounds.
Blue whales are baleen whales, which means they have a filter structure to capture their food, rather than teeth. What fuels these massive beasts? Mostly krill, up to 4 tons of the tiny crustaceans a day, along with other small sea creatures -- fish, squid and the like.
As you can see from the third photo, blue whales have a rather slender,
elegant body. The video shows how gracefully they move through the
water. They will sometimes raise their flukes when they dive, and they
can spout water up to 30-39 feet high. Even their vocalizations are
big; scientists estimate that blue whales can hear each other up to 700
miles away, although the sounds they emit are often at such a low
frequency that people can’t hear them. However, the NOAA has files of whale sounds modified so you can hear them.
In spite of their size, they're not often spotted. Blue whales are an endangered species, though they can be found in oceans throughout the world. There are only a little over 2,000 of them found off the California coast, and unlike some other species, they tend to stay farther offshore. These are migrating whales, but they’ve also been observed staying in the same location year round.
If you take a California whale watching cruise, you’re most likely to spot them either alone or paired, but in places where food is abundant, you might just get lucky enough to see a sizable group. The best places to find them are in the waters off of Monterey, and around the Channel Islands.