Swimming with the Blue Whale
When the image of a blue whale is flashed on a screen or pops up in a book, several oohs and aahs can be heard. This is not surprising considering that these magnificent mammals with many superlatives heaped on them for their size, behavior and sheer beauty.
Behemoths of the Sea
Let’s start with the obvious: their size. Based on fossil evidence dating back millions of years, blue whales are the largest animals to have ever lived on earth. Not even the largest animals on land – the dinosaurs, for example - can compare in size to these behemoths of the sea. For comparison purposes, think about this: An average human can comfortably swim through an average blue whale’s blood vessels. Better yet, think of how fast a baby blue whale gains in weight during the first year of its life – 90 kilos per day on a 50-gallon of milk ration in the same day.
Everybody who has enjoyed the opportunity to observe blue whales up close, perhaps even swim with these behemoths of the sea, are awed by their beauty. These beautiful giants have fascinating colorations that range from a bluish-grey dorsally to lighter blue shades underneath. Due to the effects of water, however, blue whales can look almost black when viewed underwater. All blue whales, however, have tightly mottled colorations regardless of the color, be it dark blue or almost black.
Blue whales are also beautiful in their proportions. Their long and slender bodies are more tapered and more elongated than other whale species, which gives these behemoths a graceful appearance. Such is their grace in appearance and in movement that many scientists have compared these animals to ballerinas of the seas.
Even their souls are beautiful, in a manner of speaking. Blue whales will almost exclusively thrive on small crustaceans known as krill as well as milk during its first year. These animals may be behemoths but their diet consists of the smallest animals in the ocean – neither a hunter nor a hunted. Well, except hunted by human beings, that is.
A blue whale is a natural swimmer, no doubt about it, with their own chiwhich distinguishes it from other ocean life. Every calf, after all, is conceived and delivered in the open seas so swimming and diving comes naturally to these beautiful giants of the sea. The more amazing fact is their speed and agility in the water.
Adult blue whales can reach top speeds of 31 miles per hour (50kph) in short bursts, which usually happens when two or more whales are interacting with each other. Even the average traveling speed of 12 miles per hour (20kph) is still impressive for their size. Feeding time is when blue whales are at their slowest swimming speed – just 3 miles per hour (5kph).
Even the largest blue whale must depend on the buoyancy of water to support its enormous weight, thus, explaining its helplessness when beached. In the water, however, it is a strong natural swimmer that uses its huge tail flukes to attain speed and control movement. The tail flukes remain submerged during swimming and diving.
Scientists have also uncovered how blue whales can survive the unbelievable water pressure when diving. Basically, blue whales make a few powerful diving strokes to go into deeper water and then change their tack to a relaxed glide during the final stages of the descent. Humans do not have such an ability, not to mention the physiology, so swimming with a blue whale can only happen near the surface.
Today's Daily Swimming workout:
10 x 100 cruise interval pace as 25 backstroke, 75 freestyle
12 x 50 with long swim fins on alternating backstroke and freestyle by 50
3 X 200 Individual Medley with hand paddles on 3 X 100 freestyle with hand paddles on
100 backstroke kick with long fins on
3 X 250 as 50 butterfly, 50 backstroke, 50 breaststroke, 100 freestyle with long fins on, with a cruise interval type of pace
Warm-down: 150 easy freestyle tai-chi style
Total: 4500 meters or yards depending on the size of your pool