Human Interaction

Whale Wars Fin Whale

posted: 05/15/12
whales-whaling-fin-whale0
Daisy Gilardini/Getty Images

Scientists calculate that 2,039,621 whales were killed in Antarctica's Southern Ocean during the decades of industrial whaling.

The fin whale was the most commonly caught whale during this time; roughly three quarters of a million were killed.

Today, only a small fraction of the fin whale's original numbers remain. In spite of the fin's endangered status, they are again being taken, albeit in very small numbers, by pro-whaling nations.

What's a Fin Whale?

Fin whales have earned themselves the nickname "greyhounds of the sea" by being the fastest swimming of all large whales. They can swim up to 30 miles per hour in short bursts of speed and generally maintain a speed of approximately 18 miles per hour. They have been known to swim as much as 188 miles in a single day.

Fin whales are second in size only to the immense blue whale. They are more social than many other rorquals and are often found in pods of 2-7 individuals, possibly because group feeding techniques are more effective for this species. Fin whales sometimes feed at the surface of the ocean by lunging and gulping. They tend to feed on their right side. Before diving, fin whales arch their backs and usually reveal their pointed, backswept dorsal fin.

These whales are able to coexist in the same regions with other large baleen whales. In fact, there have been reports of mixed schools of blue and fin whales. Humpback whales have even been spotted amid these groups.

More on
Whale Wars