Out of all of the incredibly large animals on the planet, the ten heaviest live in the ocean. In fact, the entire list of the world’s heaviest living animals consists only of whales. Their vast aquatic habitats are exactly why they can grow to be so large. On land, if such a large animal existed, gravity would pull on the muscle and bone structure until the point of collapse. Water’s buoyancy prevents that from happening and actually helps the muscles and bones to support extra weight. This concept explains why whales can grow to such massive sizes, but does not explain what prohibits them from progressing to even larger proportions. What prevents them from continuing to grow is actually explained by considering whales’ internal organs. The more the total body size increases, the smaller the surface area of the intestines, lungs, kidneys, and red-blood cells becomes. Once the difference between body size and internal organs becomes too great, the organs can no longer perform the metabolic requirements of the body. The following information will discuss the heaviest whales in the world.
The Heaviest Whales
The number one species on the list is the Blue Whale, the largest animal alive. Their average weight is 110 metric tons, the equivalent of 60 cars! The majority inhabit the North Pacific and North Atlantic Oceans although two subspecies live in the Indian and South Pacific. In 1947, whalers discovered the largest specimen, a 173-metric ton, 94-foot female.
North Pacific Right Whale
The North Pacific Right Whale weighs nearly half that of the Blue Whale. Unfortunately, this marine mammal is endangered and only 40 remain. They spend summers in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska. On average, they weigh 60 metric tons and grow to 49 feet. The largest Right Whale ever recorded was 65 feet long.
Southern Right Whale
The Southern Right Whale weighs an average of 58 metric tons and measures 50 feet. They summer in the South Ocean, close to Antarctica. The largest record of a Southern Right Whales indicates that she was 57 feet long and 80 metric tons. They do not venture into tropical waters frequently.
The Fin Whale has a range of weight from 57 to 120 metric tons. It swims from tropical to polar waters, and can measure almost 64 feet! The largest recorded was 89.6 feet long and 74 metric tons! Their speed is comparable to the fastest steamships.
Continuing on the list, next is the Bowhead Whale, the fifth heaviest animal. They average 54.4 metric tons and measure around 49 feet in length. These whales exist solely in Arctic and Subarctic waters. A whaling captain reported that the largest he had heard of was 67 feet long. Previously endangered due to whaling, they have since recovered their population.
North Atlantic Right Whale
The North Atlantic Right Whale which weighs 54 metric tons on average and resides in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean. Females are larger than males and the largest on record is 61 feet long and weighs metric tons! Making her almost as big as a Blue Whale.
The Sperm Whale with an average weight of 31.25 metric tons (over 68,000 pounds!). Sperm Whales live and migrate through all open oceans. They are the second deepest divers and have the largest brain in the world. The Nantucket Whaling Museum in Massachusetts has the remains of an 80-foot specimen. The Sperm Whale is most famous for its role in the novel Moby Dick.
The Humpback Whale feed in polar waters and breed and give birth in tropical zones. On average, they weigh 29 metric tons and are 44 feet long. The largest on record was 89 feet long and 90 metric tons in weight; unfortunately, whalers killed her in the Caribbean Sea.
The Sei Whale weighs an average of 22.5 metric tons, although the largest, found near Iceland, was 53 feet. This whale inhabits most oceans and prefers deep, offshore waters.
Finally, the Gray Whale is the last on the list. Although it is the smallest of the top ten, its average weight is 19.5 metric tons, or nearly 43,000 pounds, and grows up to 44 feet. The majority inhabit the eastern North Pacific although a small, endangered population chooses the Asian side of the ocean. Interestingly, they have the longest migration of any animal on Earth.
The Human Fascination with Large Animals
Humans have always been fascinated by large animals. In ancient times, it was the fear these creatures provoked in human minds. Today, giant animals are a reminder of how small humans are. Whales in particular have a special hold over humans; they represent two mysteries: an enormous size and an underwater life. The largest animals in the world will always captivate humans.