Fin Whale

Balaenoptera physalus

Length

Up to 78 feet (24 m) in the Northern Hempisphere
Up to 88 feet (26.8 m) in the Southern Hempishere

Weight

50-70 tons (45,000-63,500 kg)

Distribution

Found in all oceans, they may migrate to subtropical waters for mating and calving in the winter

Population

Endangered – 40,000 in the Northern Hemisphere; 15,000-20,000 in the Southern Hemisphere

Description

The Fin Whale is the second largest whale on Earth. They are baleen whales and belong to a group of whales known as the rorquals (also includes Humpback Whales and Blue Whales) Fin Whales have long throat grooves that expand while they are feeding. Dark-gray in color, a distinguishing feature of the Fin Whale is the asymmetrical coloring of the lower jaw, which is white-pale yellow on the right side and mottled black on the left side.

Fin Whale feed mainly on small shrimp-like creatures called krill or small schooling fish that get trapped in their baleen plates. They have earned the nickname “greyhound of the sea” for being the fastest of the baleen whales and are capable of burst speeds up to 29 mph.

Fin whales were a popular target for commercial whalers. Although the practice is currently banned, populations are still a small fraction of what they once were.