Do Blue Whales Have Any Natural Predators?

It might be good to be the king, but even the most powerful rulers need to keep an eye out for conspiracies. Even the blue whale, the largest creature to ever grace the Earth, can't always be sure to swim the seas unscathed.

Scientists have documented several incidents of orcas (killer whales) working together to chase, attack, and eat blue whales.
Scientists have documented several incidents of orcas (killer whales) working together to chase, attack, and eat blue whales.

Since 2019, scientists have documented coordinated attacks on blue whales by orcas, or killer whales, on three separate occasions off the coast of southwestern Australia. At least 50 killer whales participated in what have been described as particularly brutal attacks that have included eating a blue whale's tongue while it tries to escape and leaping onto its blowhole.

"These killer whales, they work together a lot, and there are a lot of killer whales," said senior researcher and marine ecologist Robert Pitman. "That's probably the reason for their success down there." Although these are the first documented attacks, scientists believe they have almost certainly occurred before. An increased whale population and improved hunting strategies by orcas are cited as likely explanations for the ease with which the recent attacks have been captured on film.

Big blue:

  • The longest blue whale ever recorded reached 108 feet (33 m) in length.

  • A blue whale's heart is roughly the size of a bumper car, and about 400 pounds (180 kg).

  • Speaking of huge things, the tongue of a blue whale can weigh as much as an elephant.

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    • Scientists have documented several incidents of orcas (killer whales) working together to chase, attack, and eat blue whales.
      Scientists have documented several incidents of orcas (killer whales) working together to chase, attack, and eat blue whales.