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The Largest Animal on Earth

05-25-2018

Marika Powers, Lead Expedition Guide, Safari Endeavor

The longer I spend down here in the wild desert of Baja, the more I appreciate the minute.

The diminutive whorl of an intricate purple wildflower, no larger than the grains of sand surrounding it, or the tiny textured eye of a perfectly camouflaged frogfish against the colorful rocks of the reef. But sometimes, a tiny dot on the horizon that just catches your eye turns out to be a huge discovery.

While scanning the sea from the Safari Endeavour outside of Puerto Escondido, we saw a glimpse of a dark smooth skim along the ocean’s surface.

As we cruised in for a better look, the debates began.

“What is it? A dolphin?”

“No.”

“A whale? Absolutely! But what kind?”

This was no little whale.

Its smooth dorsal seemed to go on forever as it crested the water’s surface. Finally, after a spirited debate over marine radio and in the bridge, we determined that it was a blue whale.

The Blue whale is the largest animal ever known to have lived on earth.

These magnificent marine mammals rule the oceans at up to 100 feet long and upwards of 200 tons, if you can even imagine such a thing. Their tongues alone can weigh as much as an elephant. Their hearts, as much as an automobile.

Blue whales reach these seemingly impossible dimensions on a diet composed nearly exclusively of tiny shrimp-like animals called krill.

During certain times of the year, a single adult blue whale consumes about four tons of krill a day. The mind reels at such enormous stats.

Watching the whale, I am reminded that sometimes it is not finding the tiniest treasures that make this place so special, but rather feeling very small in comparison to something so big.



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