Balaenoptera physalus - (Linnaeus, 1758)
Fin Whale
Other English Common Names: Finback Whale
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Balaenoptera physalus (Linnaeus, 1758) (TSN 180527)
French Common Names: rorqual commun
Spanish Common Names: Rorcual Común
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.103352
Element Code: AMAGH01010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Mammals - Whales and Dolphins
Image 7587

© Larry Master

 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Mammalia Cetacea Balaenopteridae Balaenoptera
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder (editors). 1993. Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference. Second edition. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC. xviii + 1206 pp. Available online at: http://www.nmnh.si.edu/msw/.
Concept Reference Code: B93WIL01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Balaenoptera physalus
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G3G4
Global Status Last Reviewed: 04Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 09Apr1997
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: Widespread in Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Southern oceans; populations were greatly reduced by historical commercial whaling; approximately 102,000-122,000 remain from pre-exploitation levels of over 450,000; threatened by general deterioration of the marine ecosystem.
Nation: United States
National Status: N2 (19Feb1997)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N3N,N3M (25Aug2017)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alaska (S3), California (SNR), Delaware (SNA), Florida (SNR), Georgia (SNR), Hawaii (SNR), Maine (SNR), Maryland (SNA), Massachusetts (S2), New Jersey (S1), New York (S1), North Carolina (SNA), Oregon (SNA), Rhode Island (SNRN), South Carolina (SNR), Texas (S1), Virginia (SNA), Washington (SNA)
Canada British Columbia (S2N), New Brunswick (S2S3), Nova Scotia (S2S3), Prince Edward Island (SNR), Quebec (S3)

Other Statuses

U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): LE: Listed endangered (02Jun1970)
Implied Status under the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC):T,SC
Comments on COSEWIC: The species was considered a single unit and designated Special Concern in April 1987. Split into two populations in May 2005. Pacific populations (pop 2) are designated Threatened; Atlantic populations (pop 1) are designated Special Concern. The original designation for the single unit was de-activated.
IUCN Red List Category: VU - Vulnerable
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species Protection Status (CITES): Appendix I

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: >2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Worldwide in temperate and polar waters, in several distinct breeding stocks. In the western North Atlantic, summers north to arctic Canada and Greenland, winters south to Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean region. In the eastern North Pacific, summers north to the Chukchi Sea, winters north to California (IUCN 1991).

Population Size: 10,000 to >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Total population was estimated at 200,000 by Folkens (1984); at 102,000-122,000 (of which 85,000 in southern ocean) by NMFS (1987). Southern Hemisphere pre-exploitation population probably was 300,000-650,000 (IUCN 1991).

Overall Threat Impact Comments: Populations in all oceans were greatly reduced by historical commercial whaling. Threatened by heavy metal pollution from dumped waste in the Mediterranean. Human exploitation of euphausiids in the southern ocean is a potential threat.

Short-term Trend Comments: Most populations apparently have increased little if at all since commercial harvest was ended in the 1970s. Population off coast of eastern U.S. may be increasing (Ratnaswamy and Winn 1993). Ten-year survey (published in 1989) of prime Antarctic waters yielded far fewer numbers than expected, raising concern (Matthews and Moseley 1990).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Protection Needs: Enforce national and international conservation measures. See IUCN (1991) for a discussion of international protection measures.

Distribution
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Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) Worldwide in temperate and polar waters, in several distinct breeding stocks. In the western North Atlantic, summers north to arctic Canada and Greenland, winters south to Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean region. In the eastern North Pacific, summers north to the Chukchi Sea, winters north to California (IUCN 1991).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AK, CA, DE, FL, GA, HI, MA, MD, ME, NC, NJ, NY, OR, RI, SC, TX, VA, WA
Canada BC, NB, NS, PE, QC

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
NJ Ocean (34029)
NY Nassau (36059), Suffolk (36103)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
02 Southern Long Island (02030202)+, Mullica-Toms (02040301)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A large baleen whale.
General Description: A large dark gray to brownish black baleen whale; narrow V-shaped rostrum has a prominent median ridge; dorsal fin is angled strongly rearward, located about one-third the body length forward from the fluke notch, and is followed by a distinct dorsal ridge that extends to the tail; throat has numerous longitudinal grooves; many individuals have a whitish chevron on each side of the back above the flippers; right lower lip and right front baleen are whitish, left lower lip is dark and remainder of baleen is streaked with yellowish white and bluish gray; flippers are fairly long and narrow; baleen is up to 72 cm long; two nostrils; grows to about 26.8 m, females reaching larger sizes than males (Leatherwood and Reeves 1983).
Diagnostic Characteristics: Differs from the blue whale in dorsal coloration (mottled blue-gray and without chevrons in blue whale), a V-shaped rather than a broad U-shaped rostrum, and a larger dorsal fin. Differs from the Bryde's whale in having a single median ridge on the rostrum rather than 3 ridges. Differs from the sei whale in asymmetrical lower lip coloration, mixed color baleen, and more throat grooves (56-100 vs. 32-60); dorsal fin of the fin whale is angled upward less strongly than in the sei whale (front edge more than 40 degrees in the latter); dorsal fin of fin whale tends to surface after the head does, rather than simultaneously with the head as in the sei whale; fin whale lacks the slightly downward-turned snout tip of the sei whale. (Leatherwood and Reeves 1983).
Reproduction Comments: Mates in winter. Gestation lasts 11-12 months. Adult females bear 1 young every 2-3 years. Young are weaned at 6-8 months. Sexually mature at a minimum age of about 5-6 years in the western Atlantic. Life span may be 40-100 years.
Ecology Comments: Travels singly, in pairs, or in pods of 6-7. May concentrate in areas of abundant food.
Habitat Type: Marine
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: Y
Mobility and Migration Comments: Migrates seasonally to colder high-latitude waters for feeding (summer), to warmer lower-latitude waters for winter breeding.
Marine Habitat(s): Pelagic
Habitat Comments: Pelagic; usually found in largest numbers 25 miles or more from shore. In the western Atlantic, occurs mainly over continental shelf in summer, in water 50-100 fathoms deep (Katona et al. 1983). Young are born in the warmer waters of the lower latitudes.
Adult Food Habits: Invertivore, Piscivore
Immature Food Habits: Invertivore, Piscivore
Food Comments: North Pacific: eats fishes, krill, calanoid copepods, squid. North Atlantic: primary foods are fishes (e.g., capelin, herring, sand launce), krill, and calanoid copepods. Southern ocean: main diet is krill. Gulf of California: eats euphausiids in winter and spring (Tershy 1992). Newly weaned young eat crustaceans; fine fringing on baleen of young facilitates capture of copepods.
Adult Phenology: Circadian
Immature Phenology: Circadian
Phenology Comments: Active day and night. Makes long dives during the day and spends more time at the surface at night. In the Gulf of California, fed throughout the day (Tershy 1992).
Length: 2500 centimeters
Weight: 87000000 grams
Economic Attributes
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Economic Comments: Long exploited by commercial whaling; harvest increased greatly in the 1920s and 1930s as factory ships moved into the Southern Ocean and blue whale became scarce; commercial whaling declined to essentially zero in the 1970s and 1980s, though harvesting for subsistence use in Greenland and for "scientific research" in Iceland have continued. In the early 1990s, resumption of commercial whaling in the North Atlantic was a possibility. See IUCN (1991).
Management Summary
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Management Requirements: A draft recovery plan for the North Pacific and North Atlantic stocks was available in August 1998 (www.nmfs.gov/tmcintyr/prot_res.html/).
Biological Research Needs: Research on how successful/unsuccessful protection has been (i.e., have numbers increased dramatically, etc...).
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Rorquals

Use Class: Not applicable
Subtype(s): Foraging Concentration Area
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: An area that is, or was, occupied by a recurring concentration of foraging whales. Minimally, at least two and preferably several years of observation should be used to reliably identify significant concentrations (i.e., those occupied by feeding whales more than 10 days per year). In most cases, occurrences should not be extensive areas, but rather portions of such areas that stand out as strongly meeting the occurrence criteria. Year-to-year changes in prey distribution may mean that some key sites are not occupied every year; however, occurrences should still be delineated where data indicate that the sites are important over the longer term.
Mapping Guidance: All known sightings over a period of time in an area should be collectively mapped as a single polygon feature, or multiple polygons if there are individual areas separated by more than 5 km. Individual sightings could also be mapped as source feature points within this principal EO, although this may be impractical over time. If useful, year-to-year variation in areas could be mapped as separate source feature polygons within a larger multi-year principal EO.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 30 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 30 km
Separation Justification: Whales can travel significant distances daily. However, occurrences are defined primarily on the basis of areas predictably supporting concentrations of prey (e.g., small fish or krill) and feeding whales, rather than on the basis of distinct whale populations or specific feeding groups. Separation distance similarly refers to areas of concentrated foraging; arbitrarily set such that occurrences are manageable for conservation of prey resource.
Date: 07Feb2002
Author: Cannings, S.
Notes: Contains all members of Balenopteridae, with the exception of MEGAPTERA NOVAEANGLIAE.
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 06Apr2011
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: French, T. W., K. Willson, and G. Hammerson
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 12May1994
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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