How to measure the world in blue whales

No one likes imperial measurements, some of us don’t even like metric. Word has it the new unit on the block is the blue whale.

As you’ll know if you’ve read my two previous posts, I was made redundant this week so I’ve got a little extra time on my hands. This is why I’ve spent the best part of the afternoon creating these blue whale infographics (I’m also teaching myself how to use Adobe Illustrator so it’s all part of a bigger plan, honestly).

Measuring The World In Blue Whales

My sister Emma and I have always had this theory that a blue whale is the ideal reference from which to measure the rest of the world. We’ve estimated all sorts of things using the blue whale as a starting point. We once spent the duration of a flight to France working out the speed of the plane using the blue whale method. We’re an absolute hoot at dinner parties.

It’s easy to extrapolate once you get going. You just need to know that blue whales are huge. They’re the biggest animals that have EVER lived on our planet. They’re thought to average at about 25m long and some probably exceed that. Let’s get an idea of what that means in terms of you and I, using my abnormally long body as an example.

I’m 1.8m (5 ft 11). That’s pretty big for a woman but probably average for a man. Let’s start by comparing me to another big thing – a great white shark. P.S. PLEASE don’t check my maths. My mum had to give me extra text books in school for a reason.

how big is a great white shark

Compared to other ladies I’m pretty big, but pop me next to a great white shark and I’m practically petite. Now let’s bring the blue whale into the equation…

how many great white sharks is a blue whale

If you think about how terrifyingly huge Jaws was and then imagine 5 of them snout to tail, you’ll appreciate just how enormous a blue whale is. On a related note – did you know the great white shark’s prehistoric ancestor, the megalodon, looked just like a great white but was ALMOST AS BIG AS A BLUE WHALE. Crikey.  But back to measuring stuff…

zoewhale-05

Now that you can sort of get your head around just how big these magnificent creatures are, let’s move away from the animal kingdom and start applying this incredibly accurate formula to the wider world.

Buildings, for example. Buildings have to contain lots of us at once. They are also a great way for nations to give a big middle finger to the rest of the world and say ‘f**k you, we’ve got a bunch of oil and a crazy architect so don’t mess with us.”

Let’s look at how many blue whales the tallest building in the world is (I believe this is the tallest building in the world to date but please do correct me if I’m wrong. Not my maths though, don’t correct my maths).

how many blue whales is the worlds tallest building

I shrunk my whale drawing down so each tiny squiggle you see next to the Burj there is an actual blue whale drawn loosely to scale. God it’s great being redundant.

Now let’s step it up a notch. Have you ever wondered how many blue whales it is to France? I have. So starting in Eastbourne (because that’s where I am right now), let’s have a look…

bluewhalestofrance-02

That’s not many, really. But do you know what the really sad thing is? If 3,611 blue whales really did conspire one day to line up mouth to tail across the English Channel, not only would it be a strange and awesome sight, but it would also mean the majority of the world’s entire population of blue whales would have to be there.

In 2002 it was estimated that there are only 5,000 – 12,000 blue whales left in the whole ocean. It’s a pretty loose estimation but even more shockingly, many scientists believe it could be an over-estimation. In the first half of the 1900s, over 360,000 were slaughtered by humans, very nearly driving these colossal cetaceans  to extinction.

Blue whales are massive, intelligent creatures that live long, mysterious lives cruising the depths of the world’s oceans. They’re thought to live for as long as 80 – 90 years, longer than the average man. We still hardly know a thing about them.

Let’s hope laws can do enough to protect them so that we can keep observing them and learning about them and using them as a perfectly legitimate unit of measurement in the future.

Thanks for reading, hope you liked the illustrations. 

5 Replies to “How to measure the world in blue whales”

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