What’s the largest animal in the world? It could have been sauropods—or herbivorous dinosaurs—but that’s millions of years into the past. At present, and it’s no wonder, that the largest animal alive is a species classified as endangered by the World Conservation Union.
While the elephant is currently recorded as the largest animal on land, an even far larger is found in the ocean, and it’s the Balaenoptera musculus—otherwise know as the Blue Whale.
Now, the size of these creatures is astounding. A typical adult Blue Whale can measure up to 100 feet (30 meters), which goes beyond the length of a professional basketball court, which is about 94 feet (28.7 meters). This photo will put things into perspective:
Blue Whales could weigh up to 181 metric tons (about 399,000 pounds). Its tremendous size could explain why its heart only beats up to 5-6 times per minute. Bring a Mini Cooper in, and you’ll have an idea how huge a Blue Whale’s heart is. As you can see in the photo above, the elephant could just be about the size of a Blue Whale’s tongue!
These whales nearly faced the brink of extinction in the early 1900s, but were placed under the protection of the International Whaling Commission in 1966. That’s some time ago, but the initiative has helped increase the Blue Whale population. At least 10,000 Blue Whales are believed to still inhabit our oceans.
Needless to say, every Blue Whale counts. The good villagers of the Kolthare village in Dapoli tehsil of Ratnagiri, India knew they had to do something fast when a 40-foot long Blue Whale was washed up to shore. Considering its size, it was a young whale that weighed about 25 metric tons.
The whale was believed to have been beached in the wee hours of the morning on February 1, Monday. Around 6am, the whale was discovered struggling on the sand 100 meters away from shore by a volunteer member of the Sahyadri Nisarga Mitra, an environmental group patrolling the area.
The rest of the group had to be alerted, and with the help of villagers, members of a German organization researching on marine life in Ratnagiri, and fishermen, a 25-representative strong rescue team was formed. The attempt to haul the Blue Whale back to the waters took almost 12 grueling hours. The young whale had to receive medical attention due to stomach infection, as prolonged hours beached at shore had weakened it.
Around 5pm of the same day, the Blue Whale, assisted by two shipping vessels, was towed back to the deeps of the Arabian Sea. As if in a touching display of gratitude, the whale surfaced once before gracefully diving back into the ocean.
The same Dapoli shores and nearby ones have experienced an influx of beached whales in the past months, including an equally big Bryde’s whale that had been washed ashore the Juhu beach of Mumbai a week ago. On January, about 45 short-finned pilot whales had died after being washed ashore in the Tuticorin district.
So far the beached whales have perished, which made this rescue a successful, a miraculous even, attempt with regards to a Blue Whale. It’s been a cause of concern as to why these large marine mammals keep getting washed to shore, and conservationists in those areas are up to investigate.
The average life span of a Blue Whale is about 80-90 years, so here’s hoping that this fortunate Blue Whale would live to the fullest.
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