Animalia > Chordata > Mammalia > Cetacea > Balaenopteridae > Balaenoptera > Balaenoptera physalus

Balaenoptera physalus (Fin Whale; finback whale)

Synonyms: Balaena physalus
Language: French; Spanish

Wikipedia Abstract

The fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus), also called the finback whale, razorback, or common rorqual, is a marine mammal belonging to the suborder of baleen whales. It is the second-largest animal after the blue whale. The largest reportedly grow to 27.3 m (89.6 ft) long with a maximum confirmed length of 25.9 m (85 ft), a maximum recorded weight of nearly 74 tonnes (73 long tons; 82 short tons), and a maximum estimated weight of around 120 tonnes (132.5 tons). American naturalist Roy Chapman Andrews called the fin whale "the greyhound of the sea... for its beautiful, slender body is built like a racing yacht and the animal can surpass the speed of the fastest ocean steamship."
View Wikipedia Record: Balaenoptera physalus


Balaenoptera physalus physalus (Northern Fin Whale)
Balaenoptera physalus quoyi (Southern Fin Whale)

Endangered Species

Status: Endangered
View IUCN Record: Balaenoptera physalus

EDGE Analysis

Second in size only to the blue whale, the fin whale is the largest whale known to breach. Famed for its ability to sustain speeds of almost 40 km/hour, the species is sometimes referred to as the “greyhound of the sea”. It was for this reason that the fin whale was not initially targeted by early whalers. However, the species suffered the most drastic declines of any of the rorquals following the onset of modern commercial whaling. Almost 750,000 fin whales were reportedly taken from the Southern Hemisphere alone between 1904 and 1979. Although commercial whaling has now been banned, scientists fear that it may be too late for the species to recover from such a massive population decline.
Uniqueness Scale: Similiar (0) 
 Unique (100)
Uniqueness & Vulnerability Scale: Similiar & Secure (0) 
 Unique & Vulnerable (100)
ED Score: 22.63
EDGE Score: 5.24
View EDGE Record: Balaenoptera physalus


Adult Weight [2]  77.16 tons (70,000.00 kg)
Birth Weight [2]  1.98 tons (1,800.00 kg)
Female Maturity [2]  7 years 4 months
Male Maturity [2]  7 years 10 months
Diet [3]  Carnivore (Invertebrates), Piscivore
Diet - Fish [3]  30 %
Diet - Invertibrates [3]  70 %
Forages - Marine [3]  100 %
Gestation [2]  11 months 12 days
Litter Size [2]  1
Litters / Year [2]  0
Maximum Longevity [2]  114 years
Migration [1]  Interoceanic
Speed [4]  12.75 MPH (5.7 m/s)
Water Biome [1]  Coastal
Weaning [2]  6 months 3 days

Protected Areas

Name IUCN Category Area acres Location Species Website Climate Land Use
Alto Golfo de California y Delta del Rio Colorado Biosphere Reserve VI 2320468 Sonora, Mexico  
Archipelago de Colon Biosphere Reserve 34336011 Galapagos Islands, Ecuador  
Arcipelago delle Pelagie - area marina e terrestre 31419 Italy    
California Coast Ranges Biosphere Reserve 153447 California, United States  
Cape Breton Highlands National Park II 234333 Nova Scotia, Canada  
Cape Cod National Seashore II 21724 Massachusetts, United States
Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary   California, United States
Channel Islands National Park II 139010 California, United States
Everglades and Dry Tortugas Biosphere Reserve   Florida, United States  
Farallon National Wildlife Refuge IV 352 California, United States
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary IV 2387149 Florida, United States
Forillon National Park II 61010 Quebec, Canada  
Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve II 366714 British Columbia, Canada
Kronotskiy Biosphere Reserve 361480 Russia  
Luce Bay and Sands 120487 Scotland, United Kingdom
Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve II 20461 Quebec, Canada
Morecambe Bay 151985 England, United Kingdom
Palmer LTER Site Long Term Ecological Research   Antarctica    
Point Reyes National Seashore II 27068 California, United States
Prince Edward Island National Park II   Prince Edward Island, Canada  
Redwood National Park II 77867 California, United States
Reserva de la Biosfera El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve VI 6176727 Mexico  
Reserve de la Biosphere de Charlevoix Biosphere Reserve 1383790 Canada  
Reserve Nationale de Camargue Biosphere Reserve 32232 France  
Saguenay - St. Lawrence Marine Park National Marine Conservation Area II 310822 Canada
Sefton Coast 11278 England, United Kingdom
Terra Nova National Park IV 125894 Newfoundland, Canada

Prey / Diet

Ammodytes americanus (inshore sand lance)[5]
Boreogadus saida (Polar cod)[5]
Calanus finmarchicus[5]
Calanus glacialis[5]
Calanus hyperboreus[5]
Clione limacina (Naked sea butterfly)[5]
Clupea harengus (Yawling)[5]
Clupea pallasii pallasii (Pacific herring)[6]
Euphausia frigida[5]
Euphausia pacifica (Pacific krill)[5]
Euphausia superba (Antarctic krill)[5]
Euphausia vallentini[5]
Filippovia knipovitchi (Smooth Hooked Squid)[5]
Fulmarus glacialis (Northern Fulmar)[5]
Gadus chalcogrammus (Whiting)[6]
Gadus morhua (rock cod)[5]
Glyptocephalus cynoglossus (Witch flounder)[5]
Gonatus fabricii (boreoatlantic armhook squid)[5]
Mallotus villosus (Capelin)[6]
Meganyctiphanes norvegica (Norwegian krill)[5]
Melanogrammus aeglefinus (Smokie)[5]
Micromesistius poutassou (Poutassou)[5]
Neocalanus cristatus[5]
Neocalanus plumchrus[6]
Neocalanus tonsus[5]
Ningaui yvonnae (Southern Ningaui)[5]
Nyctiphanes simplex[7]
Pollachius virens (Sillock)[5]
Sardinops sagax (Australian pilchard)[8]
Scomber scombrus (Split)[5]
Themisto abyssorum[5]
Themisto libellula[5]
Thysanoessa inermis[6]
Thysanoessa longicaudata[5]
Thysanoessa longipes[6]
Thysanoessa raschii (Arctic krill)[5]
Thysanoessa spinifera[5]

Prey / Diet Overlap

Competing SpeciesCommon Prey Count
Atheresthes stomias (Turbot)2
Balaenoptera acutorostrata (Minke Whale)4
Balaenoptera borealis (Sei Whale)2
Balaenoptera musculus (Blue Whale)3
Brachyramphus marmoratus (Marbled Murrelet)2
Callorhinus ursinus (Northern Fur Seal)2
Cepphus columba (Pigeon Guillemot)2
Clupea pallasii pallasii (Pacific herring)2
Eumetopias jubatus (Steller Sea Lion)2
Fratercula arctica (Atlantic Puffin)2
Fratercula cirrhata (Tufted Puffin)3
Fulmarus glacialis (Northern Fulmar)3
Gadus chalcogrammus (Whiting)3
Gadus macrocephalus (Pacific cod)2
Hippoglossus stenolepis (Pacific halibut)2
Histriophoca fasciata (Ribbon Seal)2
Megaptera novaeangliae (Humpback Whale)3
Pleurogrammus monopterygius (Atka mackerel)2
Puffinus tenuirostris (Short-tailed Shearwater)2
Rissa tridactyla (Black-legged Kittiwake)5
Uria aalge (Common Murre)2


Carcharodon carcharias (Maneater shark)[5]


Parasitized by 
Anisakis pacificus <Unverified Name>[9]
Anisakis simplex[9]
Bolbosoma balaenae[9]
Bolbosoma brevicolle[9]
Bolbosoma hamiltoni[9]
Bolbosoma nipponicum[9]
Bolbosoma tuberculata[9]
Bolbosoma turbinella[9]
Brachycladium goliath[9]
Brachycladium petrowi[9]
Crassicauda boopis <Unverified Name>[9]
Crassicauda crassicauda <Unverified Name>[9]
Crassicauda pacifica <Unverified Name>[9]
Diphyllobothrium balaenopterae[9]
Monorygma grimaldii[9]
Odontobius ceti[9]
Ogmogaster grandis[9]
Phyllobothrium delphini[9]
Priapocephalus grandis[9]
Priapocephalus minor[9]
Tetrabothrius affinis[9]
Tetrabothrius egregius[9]
Tetrabothrius ruudi[9]

Range Map

Antarctica/Southern Ocean; East Pacific; Eastern Atlantic Ocean; Indo-West Pacific; Western Atlantic Ocean;



Attributes / relations provided by
1Myers, P., R. Espinosa, C. S. Parr, T. Jones, G. S. Hammond, and T. A. Dewey. 2006. The Animal Diversity Web (online). Accessed February 01, 2010 at
2de Magalhaes, J. P., and Costa, J. (2009) A database of vertebrate longevity records and their relation to other life-history traits. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 22(8):1770-1774
3Hamish Wilman, Jonathan Belmaker, Jennifer Simpson, Carolina de la Rosa, Marcelo M. Rivadeneira, and Walter Jetz. 2014. EltonTraits 1.0: Species-level foraging attributes of the world's birds and mammals. Ecology 95:2027
4Kinematics of foraging dives and lunge-feeding in fin whales, Jeremy A. Goldbogen, John Calambokidis, Robert E. Shadwick, Erin M. Oleson, Mark A. McDonald and John A. Hildebrand, The Journal of Experimental Biology 209, 1231-1244 (2006)
5Jorrit H. Poelen, James D. Simons and Chris J. Mungall. (2014). Global Biotic Interactions: An open infrastructure to share and analyze species-interaction datasets. Ecological Informatics.
6Food Web Relationships of Northern Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca : a Synthesis of the Available Knowledge, Charles A. Simenstad, Bruce S. Miller, Carl F. Nyblade, Kathleen Thornburgh, and Lewis J. Bledsoe, EPA-600 7-29-259 September 1979
7DIET AND FEEDING BEHAVIOR OF FIN AND BRYDE'S WHALES IN THE CENTRAL GULF OF CALIFORNIA, MEXICO, Bernie R. Tershy, Alejandro Acevedo-G., Dawn Breese and Craig S. Strong, Rev. Inv. Cient. Vol. 1, UABCS, 1993
8Szoboszlai AI, Thayer JA, Wood SA, Sydeman WJ, Koehn LE (2015) Forage species in predator diets: synthesis of data from the California Current. Ecological Informatics 29(1): 45-56. Szoboszlai AI, Thayer JA, Wood SA, Sydeman WJ, Koehn LE (2015) Data from: Forage species in predator diets: synthesis of data from the California Current. Dryad Digital Repository.
9Gibson, D. I., Bray, R. A., & Harris, E. A. (Compilers) (2005). Host-Parasite Database of the Natural History Museum, London
Protected Areas provided by Biological Inventories of the World's Protected Areas in cooperation between the Information Center for the Environment at the University of California, Davis and numerous collaborators.
Natura 2000, UK data: © Crown copyright and database right [2010] All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100017955
GBIF Global Biodiversity Information Facility
Images provided by Google Image Search
Abstract provided by DBpedia licensed under a Creative Commons License
Weather provided by NOAA METAR Data Access