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. The fin whale is a baleen whale and belongs to a group of whales known as the rorquals, which also includes humpback whales, blue whales, Bryde’s whales, sei whales, and minke whales. These whales have throat grooves that expand while the animal is feeding. Brownish-gray in color, a distinguishing feature of the fin whale is the asymmetrical coloring of the lower jaw, which is white or yellow on the right side and mottled black on the left side.

Fin whales feed mainly on small shrimp-like creatures called krill or small schooling fish which get stuck in their baleen plates. One of the fastest whales in the ocean, they have earned the nickname “greyhound of the sea” and are capable of bursts up to 23 mph.

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