Blue whales are the biggest animals that have ever roamed our planet, so you would be forgiven for thinking that they have no natural predators.
However, in this post, we’re going to take a closer look at which animals think they are fierce enough to take on such a large majestic animal.
Do blue whales have predators?
The blue whale is simply too large to have regular predators. However, pods of Orca or killer whales have been known to attempt to take them down.
Let’s take a closer look…
Do Blue Whales Actually Have Predators?
Although it’s incredibly rare for any animal to try and take on a blue whale, killer whales hunt in groups and are true apex predators of the ocean.
They are intelligent enough and have the numbers to take on anything that roams our oceans, even the blue whale.
However, most blue whale hunts are unsuccessful and don’t often result in a successful kill for the pod of Orca.
More often than not, blue whales travel by themselves, or sometimes with their calves, which makes them a target for hunting killer whales.
The Blue Whales Biggest Predators
An adult blue whale can grow as long as 26 meters and weigh as much as 150,000 – 300,000 lbs. In fact, the largest blue whale ever recorded was over 33.5m and weighed over 400,000 lbs.
So it makes sense that no predators want to try their luck with the blue whale.
We, humans, are the dominant species on planet earth and are the biggest threat to the already endangered blue whale population.
Commercial whaling of all species is now illegal by the International Whaling Commission (IWC), however, several countries still partake in this activity.
In all countries that still hunt blue whales, it is generally for their meat, as it’s considered a delicacy in some parts of the world.
But commercial whaling isn’t the only threat to blue whales.
Waste pollution, noise pollution, entanglement from fishing nets, vessel strikes, and global warming are all among the many threats to blue whales.
Killer whales are the ultimate apex predators of the oceans. They hunt in pods which makes them incredibly successful and are one of the most highly intelligent animals on the planet.
This makes most of their hunting activities successful, as they use tactics that have shocked scientists and techniques that have been optimized through generations.
When a pod of killer whale attempt to hunt a blue whale, they typically surround the whale from all angles to prevent it from escaping.
After all escape routes are blocked, they bite the blue whale’s thick blubber and continue to attack the blue whale until it’s too weak to fight back or flee.
Some killer whales have even been known to charge a blue whale in an attempt to get on its back to further weaken it.
Check it this impressive drone footage of a blue whale being charged by a pod of Orca:
Often surrounding the whale and biting it proves unsuccessful, so they will next turn to the whale’s calf instead for an easier opportunity.
Blue whale calves are much, much smaller than adults, and are often somewhere between 25 – 30 feet long and less equipped to defend themselves.
If there is no calf for the Orca to attack, oftentimes the pod will give up hunting an adult whale completely, as it can be multiple hours of battling with a blue whale before it gives in.
This seems like a waste of energy, as there are much easier opportunities for killer whales to make use of that expending so much energy trying to take down such a large whale.
How Do Blue Whales Protect Themselves?
Most whales protect themselves from predators by traveling in pods, however, the blue whale prefers solitude and is generally a solo traveler.
If attacked by a pod of Orca, blue whales will usually try to flee the scene immediately to escape the killer whales.
If escape is no longer an option, they will use their incredibly large tails to thrash around in hopes of striking the Orca.
However, as blue whales are non-aggressive animals, they are not exactly well equipped to defend themselves against an attacking pod of predators.
Blue whales are pretty defenseless and don’t have a lot of ways to fight back against Orca besides their sheer size.
Why Don’t Blue Whales Have Predators?
The single biggest reason blue whales don’t have predators, aside from incredibly rare attacks from killer whales is that they are simply too large.
Trying to take down a blue whale, even with a pod can prove incredibly difficult and often a pursuit that simply isn’t worth it.
Expending so much energy trying to take down a blue whale can be exhausting, and when there are other prey animals such as fish, seals, and rays, they seem like a much easier option.
Blue whales are also quite speedy and powerful, so they are able to flee from predators and really move if they want to.
Not only that, but an accurate tail slap from a blue whale is enough to seriously injure any oncoming predators, whether that killer whales, sharks, or any other marine predators.
So, do blue whales have predators? No, they are too large for any predators.
Killer whales and humanity are the biggest threat to blue whales. The species is endangered and is thought to currently be no more than 27,000 strong.
This is what makes the blue whale so rare to see in the wild. Unlike other whales, blue whales don’t travel in pods for protection and rely solely on their size, speed, and power to fight off or escape from Orca.
Hopefully, this post has been helpful in understanding why the blue whale has very few natural predators.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post and I hope you’ve learned something new about the blue whale today.
Hi, I’m George – the founder of MarinePatch. I created this blog as marine wildlife has been my passion for many years. I’ve spent over a decade in the marine wildlife industry and spent years out in the field conducting research. In today’s modern world, an online blog is the best place for me to share my findings and reach as many people as possible to help educate and inspire others. Enjoy your time here and you’re welcome back anytime!