Blue whale Balaenoptera musculus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Suborder: Mysticeti Family: Balaenopteridae

Blue whale Balaenoptera musculus

Sightings in Madeira

April and September

ID characteristics

Huge, grey/bluish mottled body with very big head (one fourth of total body length)
Pale blue/grey or white underside.
Very small dorsal fin set well back (about three quarters) along its body

Surface behaviour

Settle or slowly swim without exposing rear body.
Some individuals are easy to approach.
May show flukes on diving


All over the world, though separate populations in North Pacific, North Atlantic, Indian and Southern Oceans.
Worldwide, mainly in cold waters and open ocean


1 or 2 individuals together


Krill and other crustaceans


Max length: 24 to 33.6 m, depending on the subspecies
Adult weight: 100 to 120 ton


Upright and columnar up to 12 meters tall. Regular blows every 10 to 20 seconds for about 2 to 6 minutes before diving

IUCN Status: Endangered
Madeira frequency status: Rare

Other languages common names

ENG - Sulphur-bottom Whale
GER - Blauwal
FRA - Baleine bleue Rorqual bleu
ESP - Rorcual azul, Ballena azul
SWE - Blåval
DAN - Blåhval
ITA - Balenottera azzurra
NED - Blauwe vinvis
NOR - Blåkval, Blåhval
POL - Płetwal błękitny
POR - Baleia azul

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