Fin whale

ORDER: CETACEA

SUBORDER: BALEEN WHALES

FAMILY: ECHENEIDAE

GENDER: BALAENOPTERA

SPECIES: BALAENOPTERA PHYSALUS (Linnaeus 1758)

Balenottera comune, fin whale, rorcual comun, rorqual commun, Finnwal

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The fin whale is the largest whale in the Mediterranean. Its average length was estimated at around 24 meters for a weight ranging from 60 to 80 tons. Its body is tapered. It emanates vertical long puffs of an inverted cone shape at times 6-7meters high due to the presence of a vent provided with two orifices. The color is slate gray on the back and white on the belly. It presents a significant asymmetry in the head pigmentation: the right mandibular region is white, while the left one is slate gray. Furthermore, the gray livery of the back, often presents different shades of hue whose shape is characteristic of the individual. Whales undertake long apneas variable from 5 to 15 minutes (max 26 minutes), and when they dive, they don’t show the caudal fin out of the water.

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It's a purely pelagic species, it frequents and lives in very deep water even if, sometimes, some individuals were seen in shallow depths. It feeds of  both small planktonic crustaceans and fish. In the Mediterranean, it was observed that the same individuals go to feed every summer in the Ligurian-Provencal basin and in the south of the Tyrrhenian Sea. The current status of the population is  unknown in the areas of the North Atlantic (including the Mediterranean Sea). Recent studies suggest the presence of a series of groups of this species genetically separated between them depending on the geographical region. Worldwide, the populations of fin whale is severely affected due to exploitation by the modern whaling industry. Therefore, the species has been classified as endangered. In the Mediterranean,  collisions are the leading cause of mortality of the species.