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
et al. 1998, Wilson and Ruff 1999).
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
every 3 - 4 years
Gestation: 12 months
Newborn: 5.5 - 6.5 meters long
life expectancy: 30 years
IUCN Red List Status:
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,
(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