This video was taken less than two miles away from Monterey Harbor in California, where the famed Monterey Bay Aquarium is located. The area is known for its rich biodiversity and is an excellent place to watch a variety of whale species feed. But an extra special event is always spotting the largest animal ever known to live on our planet: the blue whale.

According to the crew of Monterey Bay Whale Watch:

Not only is it incredibly rare to see a Blue Whale this close to land, it's even more rare to see this surface feeding behavior. This Blue Whale fed within sight of shore off the coast of Monterey and Pacific Grove this morning, giving our passengers an experience of a lifetime. The world's largest animal eats tiny krill by lunge feeding through dense patches of food. You can see the enormous mouth and throat expand and flex as it glides across the surface gathering krill for breakfast!

Blue whales are baleen whales and feed by taking in big gulps of water full of krill then using their tongue to push the water out of the fringe-like baleen plates. The tiny krill are left behind and swallowed. Blue whales grow up to 100 feet long and weigh upwards of 200 tons. At that size, their tongue alone weighs as much as an elephant— imagine an adult elephant inside the mouth of the whale in this video, and you'll get a sense of scale!

Jaymi Heimbuch ( @jaymiheimbuch ) focuses on wildlife conservation and animal news from her home base in San Francisco.