The strongest whale in the world

The strongest whale in the world

Some animals just look strong. Male gorillas parade their ripped muscular bodies, while elephants are capable of great displays of power, such as tipping over trees.

But the strongest animals in the world live somewhere else - in the ocean.

Whales, being the largest animals alive, also have the largest muscles.

Now a new study has determined which is the strongest whale of all.

And crucially, it has revealed that despite being massively powerful, whales are impotent when entangled by fishing gear, as they are just not strong enough to break free.

The study, published in the journal Marine Mammal Science, was conducted by a team of US-based researchers led by Logan Arthur of the University Of North Carolina in Wilmington.

The team investigated which is the strongest of all cetaceans, the group that includes whales and dolphins.

It has established that blue whales are the strongest, in terms of the absolute amount of force they can generate. They are stronger than other large whales, including the massive sperm whale, the largest toothed cetacean, although they are not the strongest relative to their body size.

But despite their massive strength, whales are not powerful enough to break free from fishing gear, the research reveals. Whales often become entangled in fishing lines or nets that have been set or discarded in the ocean. Yet even a blue whale would struggle to break a single strand of a fish net, the scientists have discovered.

"I am fascinated by the sheer size of cetaceans," Mr Logan told BBC Earth.

"As mammals, cetaceans have the same body systems as we do, however they are massive animals that thrive in a completely different habitat than humans. I wanted to understand how they were able to do it."

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