To see photographs of the Fin Whale (Balaenoptera physalus)
Whale (Balaenoptera physalus)
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Taxonomic name: Balaenoptera physalus
Other Common Names: Finback Whale, Finback Rorqual.
Fin Whales belong to
the Balaenopteridae or Rorqual family of whales.
are 6.5 meters long when born in winter and grow to 27 meters.
Fin Whales are found in all oceans and temperature zones in both hemispheres
but being more common in temperate and polar waters. They can be found
close to shore, in land-bound gulfs and harbours to open oceanic areas.
This baleen whale is very slender with a distinctive colour pattern with
the lip of the lower jaw being black on the left hand side and white on
the right. This asymmetric colour pattern may extend up onto the upper
lips. The back is brownish-black to grey on the back with no mottled pattern,
as found on the similar Blue Whale. The ventral surfaces of the belly,
flukes and pectoral fins are white and a pale chevron is usually clearly
visible behind the twin blowholes. There is a small curved dorsal fin
set well back towards the wide flukes between which is a distinctive ridge
running down the spine.
The Fin Whale (Balaenoptera physalus) is the second largest whale species
and can be confused with the larger Blue Whale do to its similar shape,
large size and overlapping range. However the colouration as mentioned
above and the narrow pointed rostrum of the Fin Whale as opposed to the
U-shaped rostrum of the Blue Whale, even with a similar single rostral
ridge, clearly separates the two species. The asymmetric lip colouration
is unique to this species.
Fin Whales show their small dorsal fin upon surfacing. Their blow is a
tall single cone-shaped column. They are one of the fastest of the whales,
possibly eclipsed only by the Sei Whale, travelling at speeds over 32
km/hr earning them the name Greyhounds of the Sea. They are
know to breach, the largest whale to do so, in a spectacular splash like
their smaller Humpback Whale cousins. Fin Whales feed on a wide variety
of fish, krill and various invertebrates diving to well over 200 meters
for their prey.
Their often near-shore habitat has enabled whale watch companies to have
occasional contacts, much to the delight of their customers.