National Geographic documentary on Bruce Mate’s blue whale research receives record ratings.

Bruce Mate
Bruce Mate

A blue whale’s heart is the size of a Mini Cooper; its body longer than a basketball court. They are the largest creatures ever to live on our planet, and the sounds they make are equivalent to those of a jet engine. But despite their immensity, blue whales are so rare they remain mysterious. However, Oregon State University’s Bruce Mate and his colleague John Calambokidis of Cascadia Research Cooperative are looking to reveal more about these elusive giants.

People are eager to know more, which is why the National Geographic film, “Kingdom of the Blue Whale,” which aired on the National Geographic Channel on March 8, became its highest-rated nature documentary ever. “Kingdom” follows Mate and Calambokidis on their trek off the coast of California, where they tagged 15 blue whales, to their wintering grounds at the Costa Rica Dome.

bruce-mate-sidebar“It was quite an adventure,” Mate says. “But the more we learn about these great animals the better chance we have to protect them.”

On their trip, Mate and Calambokidis discovered that the Costa Rica dome is a key location for blue whales’ calving, breeding and feeding. They also learned that not all of the whales there came from California. “That suggests that some migrate there from elsewhere and we would like to know where that is,” says Mate. “These are incredibly important finds about blue whales, which we know so little about.”

For more on Mate, see National Geographic’s micro-site on his work and the article on his research in the March issue.

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