The blue whale is the largest known animal to have ever existed – up to 110 feet long and weighing nearly 200 metric tons. The whales are drawn to the deep waters off the coast of Southern California in late summer and fall to feed on krill (up to 40 million a day for an adult).
These magnificent, peaceful creatures were hunted nearly to extinction in the 20th century. Though still endangered, their West Coast population (estimated at 2,500) has been gradually recovering – to the delight of whale watchers… and swimmers of the Catalina and Santa Barbara Channels!
Check out this guy kayaking with them off Redondo Beach a few days ago. See, especially, the underwater shots at 1:12 and 2:15.
I’ve never been much of a museum guy – even less so when I was kid. But I fondly remember one particular exhibit at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History (a popular field trip destination at my elementary school): the blue whale skeleton! Turns out it’s still there.
For an interesting description of how blue whales fit into the incredibly diverse ecology of the Santa Barbara Channel Islands, see this article. The author refers to the islands as a “Noah’s ark of the sea,” and the “Galapagos of the Northeast Pacific.”
It all could be yours… if you come swim with the SBCSA!