Milking the blue whale

The idea of keeping a blue whale as a pet is, even by my own collecting standards, quite impractical, and I strongly advise against it. A Balaenoptera musculus can grow to sixty of my nautical cubits, and weigh around two hundred long tons. It is, for Guinessophiles, the largest animal in the known universe, ever. It will thus require a very large aquarium, and will beg to be released to exercise in summer, for its customary jaunt to the pole, and in the winter when it cruises the tropics, and breeds. Of course, if one can hardly accommodate a single restless blue whale, a family would be the height of folly.

They are filter feeders. This might perhaps appeal to my vegetarian readers, until they realize the implications of finding around twenty tons of krill, each day. The females don’t eat when they are nursing, however; but their children make up for it.

Which gets me to my point about milking the blue whale. It offers some additional challenges, for it will normally be done underwater, and a whale nipple is not only gigantic, but will be modestly concealed from humans with small hands. The conservative agriculturalist must therefore stick to nanny goats and dairy cows. The whale calf has the most elaborate, frilly, sucking apparatus with which to take the maximum of milk, with the minimum of seawater. (They, like us, find saltwater distasteful).

I’m not sure whether any marine biologist, or other sailor, has yet to milk a blue whale, but there is a first time for everything.

Mother generates upwards of fifty gallons of milk per day, which may not seem like such a grand amount, until one considers that whale milk has the consistency of butter, from being nearly half fat. This would also make it ideal for whipping cream, though a dietician might browbeat against the dangers of cholesterol. Warmed, I’m told that whale milk tastes like Tibetan tea, although I remain sceptical. (Perhaps mystical whales have over-leapt the Himalayas?) The baby whale is adding more than two hundred pounds a day, thanks exclusively to this ingestion of milk. This would put it quickly beyond an orca’s dining range, were mama not anyway so protective.

Fully grown, blue whales easily leap right out of the water, justifying the “balaenoptera” tag, for they were originally classed among the flying fish. My thought is, if you were trying to milk one, the right moment is when it is out of the water; though if it comes down near you, the milk is liable to be spilt.