Straight Dope Message Board (https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/index.php)
-   General Questions (https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/forumdisplay.php?f=3)
-   -   How Long Would It Take One Person to Eat a Blue Whale? (https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=821349)

 Green Bean 03-11-2017 07:37 PM

How Long Would It Take One Person to Eat a Blue Whale?

Assume they eat 2,500 calories of whale per day.

I would guess between 150 and 200 years.

 Thudlow Boink 03-11-2017 08:01 PM

Is this inspired by Shel Silverstein?

 engineer_comp_geek 03-11-2017 08:06 PM

As a practical matter, the blue whale is going to turn into a rotten carcass and decay long before a person could eat it.

Getting into "assume a spherical cow" type calculations where we ignore rot, and just base this on size and general calories, we can plug through the math and see what kind of silly answer we get.

I don't know the caloric content of a blue whale. Some googling shows that cows weigh about a thousand pounds, and one cow can make about a thousand quarter-pound burgers. With each burger coming in at roughly 300 calories, this give a typical cow about 300,000 calories. Admittedly, this ignores non-burger stuff that we eat, but since I also don't know how meaty a blue whale is, let's just run with these numbers and see what happens.

A blue whale (again according to google) weighs about 300,000 lbs, or as much as about 300 cows. Assuming a roughly similar caloric content per weight as cows, this puts our blue whale at 90,000,000 calories.

Divide that by 2500 calories per day, and you end up with 36,000 days, or a bit shy of 100 years.

 iiandyiiii 03-11-2017 08:14 PM

For a dedicated musher, it's only about 38 years and 8 months. The arctic chill keeps the whale nice and fresh for years, too. If his dog team gets to chow down too, the time can be cut to less than 5 years.

Don't ask me how I know this.

 Weisshund 03-11-2017 08:23 PM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by iiandyiiii (Post 20059821) For a dedicated musher, it's only about 38 years and 8 months. The arctic chill keeps the whale nice and fresh for years, too. If his dog team gets to chow down too, the time can be cut to less than 5 years. Don't ask me how I know this.
Er what about freezer burn? yuck

5 years, for a great blue whale?
173 metric tons
110 feet long

I could not eat that in a life time

 astro 03-11-2017 08:37 PM

http://www.enr.gov.nt.ca/sites/defau...f_wildlife.pdf

This is what Canadian natives would eat so this is about real world accurate as you are going to get. Scale up from the Beluga whale edible weight listed which is 300-500 lbs per whale with a body weight of 2000 - 3000 lbs for about a 6 to 1 ratio. Blue whales are 100x as large so a 250,000 lb blue whale would yield about 40,000 lbs of edible meat-skin-fat. Assuming a calorie load of 37% meat 63% muktuk

whale meat (no fat is about 481 cals per lb -

Muktuk skin+fat is 2106 cals per lb

so 40,000 lbs x .37 = 14,800 lbs lean meat and x .63 = 25,200 lbs of muktuk
53,071,200 calories of muktuk +7,118,800 of lean meat = 60,190,000 edible calories in a blue whale / 2500 per day = 24,076 days or 65.96 years

 harmonicamoon 03-11-2017 08:53 PM

So, we are going to have a few years supply.

How is blue whale meat generally served?

Any good recipes for whale meat/muktuk?

 Weisshund 03-11-2017 09:13 PM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by harmonicamoon (Post 20059883) How is blue whale meat generally served? Any good recipes for whale meat/muktuk?
i believe its eaten raw?

 Green Bean 03-11-2017 09:17 PM

Assume it won't rot.

My seat-of-the-pants calculations got me 149 years, but I figured you guys would come up with a better approach.

The question came up as a result of a "name the worst possible housepet" contest, which was handily won by my 8 year old niece. As unpleasant as a pet alligator or skunk might be, we all had to admit that the practical realities of trying to house a blue whale trumped all other considerations. In trying to come up with something positive to say about the prospect of a pet blue whale, I said, "well, if you got sick of keeping it as a pet, you could just eat it." The question of how long that would take was inevitable.

Now, the reason we were all together was to celebrate my mom's 75th birthday, now also known as "halfway done eating that whale."

Of course, if astro's calculations are correct, she'd already be finished.

 SigMan 03-11-2017 10:08 PM

Boy, talk about a lot of BarBQing! :D

Grilling.

 iiandyiiii 03-12-2017 06:31 AM

Braise the whales!

 LSLGuy 03-12-2017 08:27 AM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by harmonicamoon (Post 20059883) So, we are going to have a few years supply. How is blue whale meat generally served? Any good recipes for whale meat/muktuk?
It seems astro's got the best calculation. So we're going to need 65 years worth of "good" recipes. That's a tall / long / heavy order!

You will die of various ailments due to eating raw whale meat and blubber first.

 harmonicamoon 03-12-2017 10:57 AM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Nansbread1 (Post 20060450) You will die of various ailments due to eating raw whale meat and blubber first.
Splendid. If there are no consumers, the meat will last even longer.

 Green Bean 03-12-2017 11:07 AM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Nansbread1 (Post 20060450) You will die of various ailments due to eating raw whale meat and blubber first.
Assume no ill health effects from the all-whale diet.

Quote:
 Originally Posted by LSLGuy (Post 20060374) It seems astro's got the best calculation. So we're going to need 65 years worth of "good" recipes. That's a tall / long / heavy order!
I think the weak link in astro's calculations is the assumption that the blue whale will have the same proportion of edible to non-edible material as a whale 100x as small and of a different species as well. I think the larger animal would at least have a greater proportion of edible weight, and the meat/muktuk proportion would probably be different as well.

But he definitely offers the best approach so far, and the caloric values of the meat and muktuk are probably similar between the species. So we just need to adjust for the different proportions.

So, anybody know anything about blue whale anatomy?

 John Mace 03-12-2017 11:45 AM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by LSLGuy (Post 20060374) It seems astro's got the best calculation.
I think that was a fluke.

 astro 03-12-2017 11:52 AM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Green Bean (Post 20060601) Assume no ill health effects from the all-whale diet. I think the weak link in astro's calculations is the assumption that the blue whale will have the same proportion of edible to non-edible material as a whale 100x as small and of a different species as well. I think the larger animal would at least have a greater proportion of edible weight, and the meat/muktuk proportion would probably be different as well. But he definitely offers the best approach so far, and the caloric values of the meat and muktuk are probably similar between the species. So we just need to adjust for the different proportions. So, anybody know anything about blue whale anatomy?
The most accurate large whale yield figures you could get are probably old science journal papers on whalers who kept fairly accurate figures for whale dimensions and rendered oil yield but I'm not sure they calculated meat yield or even kept the meat. I'm sure some scientific expeditions caught smaller whales and ate them and measured meat yield but I do not have access to this data.

Plus meat yield to a non-native English scientist may not include the muktuk which many (it is an acquired taste by all accounts) would consider inedible wastage vs the flesh. If we're just talking lean whale "meat" as something westerners would eat the yield numbers are much smaller.

 aceplace57 03-12-2017 12:02 PM

Don't forget to factor out the weight of the oil.

One whale fueled a bunch of lamps in Colonial times.

 EdelweissPirate 03-12-2017 12:33 PM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Green Bean (Post 20060601) I think the larger animal would at least have a greater proportion of edible weight So, anybody know anything about blue whale anatomy?
Actually, it goes the other way: bone mass does not increase linearly with body mass, but rather with mass raised to the power of 1.09. So if a blue whale is 100 times the size of a smaller whale, we'd expect its ones to be 151 times as big as the smaller whale's. This suggests a smaller proportion of edible material from the larger whale.

Galileo was one of the first to notice this nonlinearity. Here's an account of Galileo's take on things and how that correlates to the observable world:

http://galileo.phys.virginia.edu/cla...LEOSCALING.pdf

Quote:
 Originally Posted by EdelweissPirate (Post 20060767) Actually, it goes the other way: bone mass does not increase linearly with body mass, but rather with mass raised to the power of 1.09. So if a blue whale is 100 times the size of a smaller whale, we'd expect its ones to be 151 times as big as the smaller whale's. This suggests a smaller proportion of edible material from the larger whale. Galileo was one of the first to notice this nonlinearity. Here's an account of Galileo's take on things and how that correlates to the observable world: http://galileo.phys.virginia.edu/cla...LEOSCALING.pdf
I have always been facinated with the concept of scaling things that actually do work.

In the case of the whale being almost weightless in water I am not so sure galileo's theory here would hold true. Some very large fish use cartilage instead of bone.

 Green Bean 03-12-2017 03:09 PM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by astro (Post 20060702) Plus meat yield to a non-native English scientist may not include the muktuk which many (it is an acquired taste by all accounts) would consider inedible wastage vs the flesh. If we're just talking lean whale "meat" as something westerners would eat the yield numbers are much smaller.
I was figuring it as all edible parts being eaten, including organ meats, so muktuk woyld definitely be included.

Quote:
 Originally Posted by EdelweissPirate (Post 20060767) Actually, it goes the other way: bone mass does not increase linearly with body mass, but rather with mass raised to the power of 1.09. So if a blue whale is 100 times the size of a smaller whale, we'd expect its ones to be 151 times as big as the smaller whale's. This suggests a smaller proportion of edible material from the larger whale. Galileo was one of the first to notice this nonlinearity. Here's an account of Galileo's take on things and how that correlates to the observable world: http://galileo.phys.virginia.edu/cla...LEOSCALING.pdf
Hm, interesting.

I realize too that I was envisioning a blue whale as being of a greater relative girth than it actually is, probably as a result of cartoon depictions!

 ftg 03-12-2017 03:44 PM

All these posts and no "Need answer fast?" joke. Sigh.

 DesertDog 03-12-2017 04:06 PM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by engineer_comp_geek (Post 20059809) As a practical matter, the blue whale is going to turn into a rotten carcass and decay long before a person could eat it.
What if you had a really big freezer?

And a lot of Tupperware?

Quote:
 Originally Posted by DesertDog (Post 20061201) What if you had a really big freezer? And a lot of Tupperware?
I live in So Cal so jerky would be my only option.

 Tom P. 03-13-2017 07:36 AM

Norwegian Wikipedia refers to a blue whale caught in 1947 by a Japanese whaler. It weighed 136353kg, and had 60962kg meat and 19812kg of blubber. (60962kg is about 134000 pounds of meat). The maximum weight ever recorded seems to be 173000kg, so this whale is smaller that, but I guess the total/meat/blubber ratio is the same.

Using just the meat from above (so no organs or blubber):

Whale meat (no species indicated in the source I found) gives about 120kcal/100g, so at 2500 kcal/day your caloric intake is covered for about 30000 days or around 80 years of eating nothing but around 4 pounds of blue whale meat every day.

 muldoonthief 03-13-2017 09:53 AM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by aceplace57 (Post 20060718) Don't forget to factor out the weight of the oil. One whale fueled a bunch of lamps in Colonial times.
Why would you factor it out? Whale oil is rendered down from the blubber, which in all the above calculations is being eaten, not discarded.

 astro 03-13-2017 10:09 AM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Tom P. (Post 20062488) Norwegian Wikipedia refers to a blue whale caught in 1947 by a Japanese whaler. It weighed 136353kg, and had 60962kg meat and 19812kg of blubber. (60962kg is about 134000 pounds of meat). The maximum weight ever recorded seems to be 173000kg, so this whale is smaller that, but I guess the total/meat/blubber ratio is the same. Using just the meat from above (so no organs or blubber): Whale meat (no species indicated in the source I found) gives about 120kcal/100g, so at 2500 kcal/day your caloric intake is covered for about 30000 days or around 80 years of eating nothing but around 4 pounds of blue whale meat every day. Frankly, I'd recommend a salad instead.
This link which is derived from whales that were actually caught and consumed indicates a lean meat to skin blubber ration of 37% lean meat - 63% muktuk (skin- blubber). The Norwegian cite above indicates a 3 to 1 ratio of (assumed lean) meat to blubber.

Re calories you are using just lean meat calories not meat + skin-blubber calories in your calculation.

 Blue Blistering Barnacle 03-13-2017 11:12 AM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Green Bean (Post 20059930) Assume it won't rot. My seat-of-the-pants calculations got me 149 years, but I figured you guys would come up with a better approach. The question came up as a result of a "name the worst possible housepet" contest, which was handily won by my 8 year old niece. As unpleasant as a pet alligator or skunk might be, we all had to admit that the practical realities of trying to house a blue whale trumped all other considerations. In trying to come up with something positive to say about the prospect of a pet blue whale, I said, "well, if you got sick of keeping it as a pet, you could just eat it." The question of how long that would take was inevitable. Now, the reason we were all together was to celebrate my mom's 75th birthday, now also known as "halfway done eating that whale." Of course, if astro's calculations are correct, she'd already be finished.
When I was a kid, I saw a cartoon which lives with me to this day.

Two cavemen, contemplating a 'brontosaurus'* in the middle distance (midground?). One says to the other, "I'd kill one of those, but then it would be brontosaurus, day in and day out for a month!"

*Yes, when I was a kid, it was literally true that brontosaurs walked the earth (at one time). Then everything's name got changed, and by the time the dust settled, Pluto was no longer a planet. Now, get off my lawn!

 Blue Blistering Barnacle 03-13-2017 11:15 AM

What's the best part of a Blue whale? Sharks seem to like the tongue. The hagfish on the ocean floor seem to like the blubber. What do humans seem to like?

 scr4 03-13-2017 12:07 PM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Blue Blistering Barnacle (Post 20062988) What's the best part of a Blue whale?
In Japan, Onomi (literally "tail meat") is the most expensive cut of whale meat. It is a marbled meat at the base of the tail fin of larger baleen whales like fin whales and blue whales. (Other whales have the equivalent meat but it's not marbled to the same extent.) More info on Wikipedia.

 Blue Blistering Barnacle 03-13-2017 12:31 PM

I call the Onomi!

 DrDeth 03-13-2017 12:35 PM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by DesertDog (Post 20061201) What if you had a really big freezer? And a lot of Tupperware?
Like, say the Arctic?

My Dad grew up with the Eskimo, and one small whale fed a entire village for quite some time.

 Skammer 03-13-2017 12:46 PM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by John Mace (Post 20060683) I think that was a fluke.
*golf clap* Bravo.

 Cayuga 03-13-2017 01:05 PM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Blue Blistering Barnacle (Post 20062976) Yes, when I was a kid, it was literally true that brontosaurs walked the earth (at one time). Then everything's name got changed, and by the time the dust settled, Pluto was no longer a planet. Now, get off my lawn!

Good news! Brontosaurus walks the earth again! I mean, they walked the earth at one time again. They once walked the earth again.

 Blue Blistering Barnacle 03-13-2017 01:14 PM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Cayuga (Post 20063304) Good news! Brontosaurus walks the earth again! I mean, they walked the earth at one time again. They once walked the earth again. Hell, just click the link.

Well, "Bully for Brontosaurus!"*

*My pet solution to the brontosaurus problem would be to use brontosaurus as the name for generic giant dinosaur that is "skinny on one end, thick in the middle, and skinny at the other end" (paraphrasing Anne Elk). Guess that's no longer possible.

 TSBG 03-13-2017 03:49 PM

There are restaurants in Iceland that serve whale--most likely not blue whale. I was once told that the cuts came from one whale in a deep freeze, taken before Iceland gave up whaling, but apparently that is not the case--they're still whaling.

In conclusion, please don't eat actual whale.

 Darren Garrison 03-13-2017 04:58 PM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Blue Blistering Barnacle (Post 20063322) *My pet solution to the brontosaurus problem would be to use brontosaurus as the name for generic giant dinosaur that is "skinny on one end, thick in the middle, and skinny at the other end" (paraphrasing Anne Elk). Guess that's no longer possible.
Never was possible. There is already a term for that--sauropod.

 gigi 03-13-2017 06:30 PM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by iiandyiiii (Post 20060287) Braise the whales!
I'd krill for some braised whale right about now.

 Ambivalid 03-13-2017 06:37 PM

I wonder what whale tastes like? Chicken, prolly.

 Marvin the Martian 03-13-2017 06:41 PM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by DrDeth (Post 20063205) Like, say the Arctic?
For now. Who knows by the time you're polishing up the last of the whale...

 scr4 03-13-2017 07:00 PM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Ambivalid (Post 20064106) I wonder what whale tastes like? Chicken, prolly.
It's much closer to beef or mutton. It's a mammal, remember.

 TokyoBayer 03-13-2017 09:32 PM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by scr4 (Post 20064144) It's much closer to beef or mutton. It's a mammal, remember.
But more oily.

Whale meat was used in school lunches for a long time and a lot of Japanese don't particularly have fond memories of it.

 Tamerlane 03-13-2017 09:40 PM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Green Bean (Post 20061099) I realize too that I was envisioning a blue whale as being of a greater relative girth than it actually is, probably as a result of cartoon depictions!
They're really quite torpedo-shaped. It's just that they just go on and on and on - they are quite legitimately huge in person, but it is mostly the length that is astounding.

Come visit the Monterey Bay in the summer and go whale-watching. Good ( for variable values of "good" ) chance of a sighting.

 Ambivalid 03-13-2017 09:46 PM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by scr4 (Post 20064144) It's much closer to beef or mutton. It's a mammal, remember.
Yeah the "tastes like chicken" part was just a joke. :)

 Blue Blistering Barnacle 03-13-2017 09:53 PM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Darren Garrison (Post 20063880) Never was possible. There is already a term for that--sauropod.

Why is sauropod better than brontosaur?

Anyway, eating whale beats slurping goo in Zion.

 Lumpy 03-14-2017 02:59 PM

(sorry to continue the hijack, but...)

I think the name "Brontosaurus" should be preserved for the now-fictional sauropod that was thought to be semi-aquatic, staying mostly underwater like a hippopotamus. E.g., in the original King Kong movie the raft was overturned by a Brontosaurus.

 snfaulkner 03-14-2017 04:14 PM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Lumpy (Post 20066267) I think the name "Brontosaurus" should be preserved for the now-fictional sauropod that was thought to be semi-aquatic, staying mostly underwater like a hippopotamus. E.g., in the original King Kong movie the raft was overturned by a Brontosaurus.
Dude! Spoilers! :p

 MacLir 03-14-2017 04:49 PM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by TSBG (Post 20063714) There are restaurants in Iceland that serve whale--most likely not blue whale. I was once told that the cuts came from one whale in a deep freeze, taken before Iceland gave up whaling, but apparently that is not the case--they're still whaling. In conclusion, please don't eat actual whale.
Unless you grew up eating it, you likely wouldn't like it anyway.

Imagine the toughest, stringiest piece of chuck steak you ever had. Now cook it in sardine oil. That's what whale is like, as I remember it. (From long before Greenpeace and the Marine Mammal Protection Act) Blue whale, as I recall, but I was young at the time.

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:40 PM.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com