Largest lungs
Who
blue whale Balaeonoptera musculus
What
5,000 litre(s)
Where
Not Applicable ()
When

The world's largest lungs are those of the blue whale Balaeonoptera musculus. Its two lungs have a combined, total capacity of approximately 5,000 litres of air. Extremely efficient, its enormous lungs can transfer up to 90% of their inhaled air into the whale's bloodstream. By comparison, the equivalent figure on average for humans is a mere 15%.


Like other whales, instead of possessing nostrils the blue whale has blow-holes – on top of its head. Some species only possess a single blow-hole, but the blue whale has twin blow-holes, which are protected by a special splash guard, preventing water from splashing inside them. For as the blow-holes are linked directly to the lungs, a whale could theoretically drown if too much water splashed inside them. When underwater, it closes its blow-holes and holds its breath, having taken a deep breath before submerging, because like all mammals it cannot breathe underwater.