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The fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus), also known as finback whale and razorback whale, is second in size to the blue whale and is distinguishable by its asymmetric coloration. The fin whale is normally gray with a white underside with a light gray area on the right side of the head, a white lower jaw, and white baleen on the front of the mouth.
See the fact file below for more information on the fin whale or alternatively, you can download our 21-page Fin Whale worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- The fin whale is a huge baleen whale. It is 18–27 meters (59–89 feet) long, with short baleen and 56–100 grooves along its throat and chest.
- It is found in all the world’s oceans, in groups of a few to several hundred.
- Because of its quick swimming speed, this whale is often called the “greyhound of the sea.” It can swim up to 23 mph (37 km/hr) in short bursts.
- The body’s dorsal and lateral sides are black or dark grey; the belly is white. Fin whales have an oddly colored lower jaw: white mostly on the right side of the mouth, black on the bottom.
- Fin whales have a V-shaped head and smoothed body. The dorsal side of the body can be seen with a hook-shaped tail.
- Fin whales have multiple ridges on their throats which facilitate the ingestion of large amounts of food water.
- Fin whales are found in all major oceans’ deep offshore waters, mainly in temperate to polar latitudes. They are less common in the tropics.
- They occur in a wide variety of locations during the year but the number of individuals in each area varies seasonally.
- The highest population density occurs in cool and temperate waters.
- In the warmest, most equatorial regions, fin whales are less densely populated.
- In the summer, the majority migrate from the Arctic and Antarctic feeding areas to tropical breeding and winter calving areas. They travel off the coast, in the open seas, so they are hard to track.
- Fin whales are fast swimmers, and are mostly grouped in two to seven social groups. They are often seen feeding in large groups in the North Atlantic which include humpback whales, minke whales, and white-sided dolphins.
- In the summer, fin whales feed on krill, small school fish (including herring, capelin and sand lance), and squid by opening their mouths into groups of prey.
- Fin whales feed and gulp huge quantities of food and water using their 50 and 100 accordion-like throat pleats. They then remove the food particles from the water, using the 260 to 480 baleen plates on either side of the mouth that they have instead of teeth.
- Fin whales consume up to 2 tons of food each day. They fast in winter as they migrate to warmer waters.
- Mating occurs during the winter in temperate, low-latitude seas followed by a gestation period of 11- to 12 months. A newborn weans from its mother at the age of 6 or 7 months when it is 11 to 12 m (36 to 39 ft) in length and the calf accompanies the mother to the feeding ground in summer.
- Females reproduce every 2 or 3 years. As many as six fetuses have been recorded, but single births are far more common. Females reach sexual maturity between the ages of 6 and 12 with a length of 17-20 m.
- Males, like other whales, emit long, noisy, low frequency sounds. The blue and fin whale vocalizations are the lowest-frequency sounds any animal produces.
- Each sound lasts from one to two seconds, and various combinations of sound occur in patterned sequences of 7 to 15 minutes.
- The killer whale is the only known enemy of the fin whale, with at least 20 eye witnesses and second-hand reports of assault or abuse.
- They normally flee from attack and give no resistance.
- Killer whales feed on its sinking carcass for about 15 minutes before leaving the area.
- Little is known about the fin whales’ social and mating processes.
- Long-term relationships between individuals are rare as with other baleen whales.
- Fin whales have long lives: at around 25 years, they reach physical maturity and their average lifespan is about 90 years. Males are sexually mature at age 6-10 and females at age 7-12.
- Vessel Strikes. Strikes by inadvertent vessels can harm or destroy the fin whales. The expected rise in ship traffic resulting from the opening of trans-polar shipping routes would rise the vessel’s risk of collision, as well as increased environmental noise and pollution.
- Ocean Noise. Underwater noise affects populations of whales, interrupting their usual activity and pushing them away from areas that are critical for their survival. Evidence indicates that in some settings exposure to intense underwater sound can cause some whales to drift, and eventually die.
Fin Whale Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the fin whale across 21 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Fin Whale worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus), also known as finback whale and razorback whale, which is second in size to the blue whale and is distinguishable by its asymmetric coloration. The fin whale is normally gray with a white underside with a light gray area on the right side of the head, a white lower jaw, and white baleen on the front of the mouth.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Fin Whale Facts
- FW Info
- Jigsaw Puzzle
- Interesting Facts
- Word Bank
- Whale of a Kind
- Check the List
- Fin Whale Movies
- Letter Clue
- All the fins
- Fin Experiments
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Link will appear as Fin Whale Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, May 4, 2020
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.