Fin whale

Page - January 15, 2009

Estimated North Pacific Population: 14,000-18,000 N. Pacific, endangered

Ways to identify this species: Body dark blue grey color, whitish yellow below, prominent back and dorsal fin, pointy head, asymmetrical coloring of head, left jaw dark while right lower jaw is white.

A fin whale is pictured in the Ligurian Sea, Pelagos Sanctuary for Mediterranean Marine Mammals, 20 miles off the north coast of Corsica France.

Biology

Fin whales are closely related to blue whales and hybrids between the two species are known.

They are migratory, spending summers feeding in the cold, food-rich high latitude waters, then moving low latitude warmer waters,where they breed and give birth while living of their fat reserves.

They are second largest whale species after the blue whale, weighing up to 70 tons and measuring 70 feet long. They can travel at 35 mph in short bursts of speed and can dive for up to 50 minutes.

To catch krill they open their mouths and strain water with their baleen plates.

Threats

The development of modern hunting technology and the depletion of the blue whale population made fin whales a larger target for hunters. Their numbers quickly began to fall and the population hasn't been able to recover to its pre-hunting levels.

Collisions with ships cause injury and death. Fin whales are still threatened by continued whaling by Iceland and Japan. Pollution and climate change also pose a threat to their habitat and may contribute to beach strandings.

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