One of the world's giants, known for their remarkable speed through the water
What you need to know about the Fin Whale
Our Expert Says… "We don't tend to see Fin Whales in the Antarctic itself, but they are a real highlight on the way in and out of the area, as they tend to prefer the edge of the continental shelf. We've had many close encounters where fin whales have come close to ships and have rather easily overtaken them in order to feed on prey ahead of us!"
The fin whale is second in size only to the blue whale and is one of the world’s largest creatures. Also known as the finback whale, and formerly the razorback whale, they can grow up to 27m (90ft) long and weigh in at 72 tons. They are found throughout the Atlantic ocean and at both polar regions, although northerly fin whales are smaller and lighter than the southern ocean population.
Despite their size, they have been described as “the greyhound of the sea”. This is because their body shape is slender and very streamlined, allowing them to swim at a greater speed than other whales. They have been recorded swimming at a sustained 25mph and can hit 30mph for short bursts.
Fin whales are more social than other baleen whales and tend to live in loose groups of 6 to 10 individuals. However, large congregations of up to 100 individuals have been observed feeding in particularly rich waters.
The brown-gray colored fin whale is, like the blue whale, a baleen whale. This means they use special plates in their mouths to filter the seawater of krill and small crustaceans, squid, and small fish. As was the case with their larger cousins, fin whales were heavily hunted in the southern oceans by commercial whalers during most of the 20th century. The Antarctic population was particularly badly affected, and by 1997 the population in the southern hemisphere was estimated to be only 38,000. The entire worldwide population is thought to be only around 100,000 individuals. They have made a slow recovery since the moratorium on commercial whaling and they are therefore listed as vulnerable.
On your polar expedition, you are most likely to spot fin whales offshore while you sail between landing sites. Your expert naturalist guides will be on hand to help you distinguish between fin whale and blue whale sightings and to answer any questions you have about these magnificent animals.
Fin Whale: Interesting facts
The Fin Whale has asymmetrical pigmentation with a white jaw and baleen on the right that is dark on the left. It is thought this helps to scare prey, and it also helps to distinguish the Fin Whale from the similar but smaller Sei Whale.