The Blue Whale Heart

With a length of up to 33 meters the Blue Whale is the biggest animal of the world. The giant of the ocean belongs to the suborder of baleen whales and eats only plankton - in contrast to its relatives, the toothed whales.
The Blue Whale has a huge heart! It is a big muscle, which pumps the blood through the giant body. It can reach the size of a small car and it weighs almost one ton - that is roughly 0.5 percent of its body weight. You can hear a Blue Whale’s heartbeat clearly when you are close to it. Its heart beats 8 to 10 times per minute and at the same time it pumps 2000 to 5000 liters through the veins! In contrast to that, a Dolphin, which is much smaller, has a pulse of about 40 beats per minute.
The heartbeat of diving whales is a much more slowly. It is an economic strategy so that only the most important organs are supplied. At the same time, there is a contraction of the arteries in areas of less importance. Thus, a decline of the blood pressure due to the slow heartbeat can be prevented. When the whale goes up again the pulse rises. The pulse can also triple when the whale swims at the surface.

Model of the Blue Whale Heart

The accessible model of the Blue Whale heart can be seen in the exhibition “Whales – Giants of the Oceans” of the LWL-Museum of Natural History until 11/03/2013. It has been produced by the New Zealand company “Human Dynamo Workshop”. The Blue Whale heart was designed for children to climb inside through the arteries to hear the fascinating heartbeat of the giant marine mammal. It is a life-size, three-dimensional and interactive object, which familiarizes the visitor with the anatomy of the biggest mammal on earth.

Making Of the Blue Whale Heart

The Blue Whale heart was hand sculpted from Poly Foam, then fibre glassed and hand finished and painted in four months. The artificial heart weighs 300 kg (ca. 660 pounds) and is 1.75 meters high (5.7 feet) – thus, it is as big as a small car. It was made in two halves with an integrated sound system which enables the visitor to hear and feel the whale’s heartbeat. The company “Human Dynamo Workshop” first produced the model of a Blue Whale Heart for the Museum of New Zealand “Te Papa Tongarewa”. It impressed the curators of the exhibition in Münster so much that they ordered another unique model of the New Zealand company.

The model of the Blue Whale heart of the special exhibition “Whale – Giants of the Oceans” is unique in Germany! Experience it yourself; compare the whale’s heartbeat with the human one or with a mouse’s heartbeat and, in addition to that, learn fascinating facts about the other vital organs of whales in the interactive areas of the exhibition.

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