"The Blue Whale"
The largest creature ever known to have existed on Earth is
the present-day blue whale, and may reach a total length of 33 m and a weight of
145 tons. On the ocean surface, its normal cruising speed is about 12 knots, but
it is capable of attaining 20 knots in short bursts. The maximum reported depth
reached by the species is 194 fathoms. It is capable of remaining submerged
beneath the surface for 50 minutes, although 10 to 15 minutes is more typical.
The life span of a blue whale is about 30 years. The calves measure 7 m at birth
and weigh about 2 tons. By the time they are a year old, the youngsters measure
18 m. Blue whales comprised about 90 percent of the whaling industry’s total
catch during the early part of the last century. In 1931 alone, more than 30,000 of
these were killed. Since then, the blue whale population has declined and was on
the brink of extinction. Today about 11,000 are suspected to exist.
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