Happy World Whale Day 2021!
Blue whales are a particular favorite of mine. Weighing in at 200 tons, blue whales are the largest animals on earth, and actually the largest animal ever to live on earth. A Tyrannosaurus rex is merely a lap pet for a blue whale.
About 50 million years ago, whale ancestors were wolf-sized meat eaters prowling for meals along the shores of a shallow ocean in what is now Pakistan. The evolutionary history of whales is fascinating – it’s one of my favorite stories in Baby Dinosaurs on the Ark.
The blue whale has long been a mystery. Despite widespread whale hunting, hunters didn’t chase blue whales. Hunters targeted slow swimmers that would float when harpooned.
Wind-powered ships were no match for blue whales who dive deep and swim at speeds of 30 mph. With the advent of steam powered ships and ballistic harpoons, however, blue whales became a popular target.
As the 20th century progressed, demand for whale oil lamps waned, but the demand for margarine on our toast increased.
Yes . . . margarine was made from blue whale blubber.
Easily spreadable, margarine was popular during the ration years of World War II and beyond. During the war, Britain declared margarine essential for national defense.
Until the international ban on whaling in 1982, blue whales were hunted to only 1% of their world-wide population. The blue whale population recovered but they are still endangered.
Have you ever stood under the life-sized model of a blue whale at the American Museum of Natural History in New York? If not, that’s a bullet point for your bucket list.
If yes, drop your photo if you have one in the comments below! Or, drop your favorite whale (dolphins are whales, too)!