Fin whales, also known as “razorbacks,” are large marine mammals that can grow up to 27 meters (88 feet) in length and weigh up to 74,000 kg (163,000 pounds). They are the second largest animal on Earth, after the blue whale.
They have a slender body with a distinct ridge running along the back behind the dorsal fin. They are baleen whales and have around 270-465 baleen plates on each side of their upper jaw.
Fin whales are found in all the world’s oceans, but they have distinct seasonal ranges and migrate between their feeding and breeding grounds.
They are known to inhabit both coastal and offshore waters and can be found in cold and warm temperate waters as well as in polar regions. They are found in both the northern and southern hemispheres.
They are known to migrate to the higher latitudes in the summer to feed on rich planktonic blooms, and to the lower latitudes in the winter to breed. Some populations of fin whales are known to be resident in certain areas, such as the Gulf of California, the Mediterranean Sea and off the coast of Japan.
Fin whales are baleen whales and feed primarily on small schooling fish, such as herring, anchovies, and sardines, as well as on krill and squid.
They use their baleen plates to filter large amounts of water, trapping their prey inside their mouths. They are known to be opportunistic feeders and will consume whatever prey is most abundant in their environment. They are known to use various feeding techniques such as lunging, skimming, and bottom-feeding to capture their prey.
Fin whales have been observed to use their highly expandable jaws to engulf large volumes of water, up to 70-80 cubic meters (2500-2800 cubic feet) of water per gulp, to filter out their prey.
They are known for their speed: Fin whales are fast swimmers and can reach speeds of up to 37 km/h (23 mph). They are known for their acrobatic behavior: Fin whales are known to breach (jump out of the water) and slap their tail flukes on the surface of the water.
Fin whales are considered an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). They were heavily hunted in the past, and despite a ban on commercial whaling in 1986, they continue to face many threats today, including climate change, entanglement in fishing gear, and pollution.