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Fin Whale - Balaenoptera physalus
Photo by Kathy deWet-Oleson

The fin whale is recognized as the fastest large baleen whale, and is second only to the blue whale in size. This species uses its speed to corral large schools of small fish into compact balls, then they take a gulp and strain out the fish with hair-like baleen plates. The sleek body of the fin whale is a brownish black to gray color. A small dorsal fin is located far back and close to the flukes with distinct ridge from fin to fluke. The blow is a tall narrow column of spray.

Fin Whale
(Balaenoptera physalus)

Located throughout the world’s oceans, especially in the Northeastern Pacific portion of North America, less common in tropical seas.

Fin whales tend to stay in deep water, however they have been seen along coastal areas with depth no less than 30 meters (90 ft).

Fish, krill, crustaceans and squid


The status of this species is representative of the populations within the waters of this Sanctuary only, not global populations.

Quick Fact
The fin whale’s coloration is asymmetrical, the white color of the underbelly extends up to the lip and even into the baleen on the right hand side of the whale.

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