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PWS - Fires update and impacts

20/02/2019

Background: A number of fires were ignited by dry lightning that crossed the state in late December 2018 and mid-January 2019. The storms of 15 January 2019 resulted in approximately 2,400 lightning strikes and caused over 60 new ignitions.More

PWS Fire Update - Friday 15 February 2019

15/02/2019

Parks and Wildlife Tasmania (PWS) can advise the following locations, reserves and tracks have been re-opened today (Friday 15 February).More

PWS Fire Update - Thursday 14 February 2019

14/02/2019

Parks and Wildlife Tasmania (PWS) can advise the following locations, reserves and tracks have been re-opened.More

Blue Whale

Drawing by Graham Sanders
The Blue Whale has an elongated body and U-shaped head with a prominent ridge running from the blowhole to upper lip. The spectacular 10 m high blow is easily seen when the whale lifts a large part of its head and shoulder out of the water to breathe – further than other large whales. It has a small dorsal fin which can vary in shape and size and is located about three quarters of the way back on the body and may be glimpsed on diving. It is often a uniform blue/grey colour or mottled dark blue/black or grey. There are two subspecies of the blue whale in the southern hemisphere, Balaenoptera musculus intermedia, and the Pygmy Blue Whale Balaenoptera musculus brevicauda which only reaches 25m in length and experts believe is the one most spotted in Australian waters. The Blue Whale is the largest of all whales reaching up to 30m in length and weighing up to 100 tonnes.

General Information

Distribution map of sightings and strandings (click to enlarge)
Blue Whales are listed as endangered, and have occasionally been spotted off Tasmania’s coastline in recent years as they move to feeding grounds off Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria. They generally travel singly or with one other individual. They feed exclusively on krill. Blue Whales can live up to 100 years of age. Calves are born in winter and are weaned at summer feeding grounds at about 7 months of age when about 16m long. Calves drink around 200 litres of milk per day putting on about 90kg in weight daily. The location of their breeding grounds is unknown. They are usually concentrated in the summer pack ice but can occasionally be spotted all round the Australian continent. The normal heart rate for a Blue Whale is only 20 beats per minute.

Stranding Information

Worldwide stranding records are generally single animals that have washed up dead. The first record was from Tasmania in the Derwent River in 1825 and was a 29.3m adult. In 1874 a 26.5m whale was recorded at Ulverstone and in 1967 an 18.3m Blue Whale was recorded at Three Sisters Island. A 20m Blue Whale was also recorded at King Island in 1991.