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The Blue Whale is the largest and loudest animal that's ever lived on Earth. These gigantic mammals eat small, but live large and are in danger of becoming extinct.

Blue Whales belong to the cetacean suborder Mysticeti or the "baleen whales." Whales in this suborder lack teeth. Instead, they have stiff, hairlike baleen plates that hang from their upper jaws and filter food and water.

The Blue Whale is considered to be the largest animal that's ever inhabited the earth. Fossils indicate that the Blue Whale at one time, grew to more than twice the size it does today. During the late 19th century, this whale was hunted to near extinction by whalers in search of blubber. Whether or not the whale will be able to survive well into the future is still unknown.

The Blue Whale is the largest known animal in the world and probably the largest animal that has ever lived. The largest specimen ever found was female weighing more than 174 tons and measuring some 94 feet in length. Female whales are generally much larger than their male counterparts, with an average weight of 150 tons and measure 80-90 feet in length. The heart of a Blue Whale weighs about 1, 000 pounds on its own, and is large enough for a human to crawl through the aorta.

The blue whale's skin is smooth and blue-gray with white and gray spots. Unlike many other creatures, the Blue Whale is largely parasite free. The underbelly is made up of brown, yellow or gray specks. Its body is long, tapered and streamlined, and its head is broad and flat and appears somewhat U-shaped.

The dorsal (top) fin of the Blue Whale is small and triangular, and located three-fourths of the way down the back of its body. The fin measures just one foot at its highest point. Its flippers are tapered and short, as well.

Blue whales are most often found on their own or in pairs and live mainly at the surface of the water. They are fast, strong swimmers, capable of traveling at up to 30mph.

The Blue Whale breathes air at the water's surface through two blowholes located at the top of their head. They spout (breathe) 1-4 times per minute while at rest, and 5-12 times a minute during deep dives. The Blue Whale's blow is a single stream that rises 40-50 feet above the surface of the water.

Blue Whales emit very loud, highly structured low frequency sounds that can travel many miles underwater. They are the loudest known animal alive. The Blue Whale emits sounds to help locate large masses of krill and also to communicate with others.

The Blue Whale are carnivores by nature and seasonal eaters. They feed almost exclusively on krill, but have also been known to eat plankton and other small fish. During the summer season, the whale gorges itself, consuming an unbelievable 4 tons of food per day. The Blue Whale has no teeth and use their baleen (long, bristle like plates that hang from their upper jaws) to filter out food.

Blue Whales reach sexual maturity between 6-10 years. Breeding occurs mostly in the winter to early spring in warm waters. The female whale carries a calf for 12 months, and gives birth every 2-3 years. Calves are 23-27 feet long at birth and weigh some 3 tons. A newborn calf will nurse for the first 7-8 months of life and are then slowly weaned from the mother. During the nursing period, calves consume more than 100 gallons of the mother's milk each day, gaining more than 200 pounds a day. Calves remain with their mother for just over a year before venturing out on their own. The Blue Whale has a life expectancy of 35-40 years.

It's estimated that there are 10, 000-14, 000 Blue Whales worldwide. In 1966, the International Whaling Commission declared the Blue Whale a protected species because of their huge population decrease. No longer hunted, their population is slowly on the rise.