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Fin Whale Balaenoptera physalus

The fin whale is huge, fast and enigmatic. Only the blue whale is larger but no species has the unusual (and unexplained) dual pigment of the lower jaw. The jaw is black or dark grey on the left side and white on the right. The fin whale is long and sleek with a sharply hooked dorsal fin. The total length of adults can reach 24 m and weigh more than 70,000 kg (Wilson and Ruff 1999). Fin whales eat krill, and small fish that are caught by high speed lunges. They usually occur in small groups of 2-5 individuals. Cetacean taxonomists do not recognize subspecies of fin whale (Bérubé et al. 1998, Wilson and Ruff 1999).


Fin Whale facts:

Length: 24 meters

Weight: 50 - 70 tons

Food: Krill and school fish

Social Status: Commonly found in groups of 3 - 7

Sexually mature at about 6 - 10 years

Breeds every 3 - 4 years

Gestation: 12 months

Newborn: 5.5 - 6.5 meters long

Adult life expectancy: 30 years

IUCN Red List Status: Endangered



Bérubé, M., Aguilar, A., Dendanto, D., Larsen, F., Notarbartolo Di Sciara, G., Sears, R., Sigurjónsson, J., Urban-R, J. & Palsbřll, P. J. 1998. Population genetic structure of North Atlantic, Mediterranean Sea and Sea of Cortez fin whales, Balaenoptera physalus (Linnaeus 1758): analysis of mitochondrial and nuclear loci. Molecular Ecology 7: 585-599.


Kopelman, A. H.  and S. S. Sadove.  1995.  Ventilatory rate differences between surface-feeding and non-surface feeding fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) in the waters off eastern Long Island, New York, USA, 1981-87.  Marine Mammal Science 11:200-208.

Laist, D.W., Knowlton, A.R., Mead, J.G., Collet, A.S. and Podesta, M. 2001. Collisions between ships and whales. Marine Mammal Science 17: 35–75.


Wilson, D. E. and S. Ruff 1999. The Smithsonian book of North American mammals. University of British Columbia Press, Vancouver, BC





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