Scientific Name: Balaenoptera physalus
Other Names: Herring Whale, Finback, Finner, Common Rorqual, Razorback
The Fin Whale is the second-largest animal, second only to the Blue Whale, which is the largest known animal ever to have existed. They have a worldwide distribution and the Fin Whales found in the Northern Hemisphere can be up to five feet smaller than their Southern Hemisphere counterparts. Sadly, hunting has been the demise of this creature, and its numbers have been depleted drastically as a result.
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This huge whale is dark silver-grey or very dark grey with a white underside. There are between 56 and 100 throat grooves that extend from its mouth to its navel. On the right side of its head and mouth cavity, there are white markings. The white marking on its mouth’s right side gives it the impression of a false lower lip.
Its small dorsal fin is pointed and situated far down on the body, closer to the tail. It usually slopes backwards quite dramatically. Its short pectoral fins are slender, while its tail fin is slightly concave with a distinct central notch. The top of the fluke is dark, while the underside is white.
Fin Whales reach an adult length of between 18 and 22 metres (or 59 to 72 feet) and a weight of between 30 and 80 tonnes.
The Fin Whale is unpredictable, not known for being particularly accessible to humans, neither hesitant to approach. Its patterns of surfacing are very difficult to predict. Fin Whales blow two to five times, about 10 to 20 seconds apart. Then, they dive beneath the surface of the water, where they stay for five to 15 minutes. They may dive to depths ofabout 230 metres, or 755 feet.
Typically, the Fin Whale will travel in groups of three to seven individuals, although travelling alone or in pairs is not uncommon. Where there is plenty of food available, pods of up to 100 individuals have been observed.
Where to Find Them
The Fin Whale can be found in waters all over the world. Although it generally prefers temperate waters, it is least often found in the tropics, and most often in the Southern Hemisphere. Year-round residents seem to occupy the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Sea of Cortez (California).
The Fin Whale is a baleen whale, which means that it feeds mainly on krill and tiny crustaceans. It might also dine on small fish and, on occasion, squid.
Pollution caused by human beings and industry is the biggest threat to the mammoth whales. There are only about 100 000 of these animals left in existence.