The largest living species of whale is the blue whale. A typical blue whale measures about 99 feet (30 meters) and weighs 190 tons. Blue whales are also called “the big leapers” because they can jump many times their height and length and breach out of the water, often for at least 80 feet (25 meters). The biggest seen so far has been 150 feet. One breed, the pygmy blue whales, reaches only 26 to 32 feet in length and 2-3 tons in weight. In 2008, a blue whale was found that weighed 190 tons and was about 103 ft. long. This is the larger of the two known the largest on record.
Blue whales eat krill and tiny shrimplike creatures called amphipods, which they filter from the water using comb-like plates in their mouths called baleen. They live in all oceans but prefer the krill-rich Antarctic. Blue whales are too large to catch using fishing gear, and their range is vast, making them difficult to exterminate. World War I nearly wiped out the species, as 600 blue whales were killed for oil used by ships; only 200 survived. Hunted since the 1960s for their fins, meat, and other products, blue whales are now a protected species.