Finding Fin Whales
We found our first Fin Whales of the season last week. Also called Finback Whales, fin whales are the second largest whale in the world — reaching lengths of 85 feet (26 meters) or the length of two school buses parked end to end. Like other baleen whales, females grow larger than males. Fin Whales can be identified in the field by their prominent, falcate (curved-back) dorsal fin and their remarkable asymmetrical coloration. The left side of a Fin Whale’s jaw is dark gray while the right side is bright white. This contrasting coloration may be an adaptation that startles prey like small schooling fishes into a tight cluster as the whale hunts, making them easier for the whale to scoop up prey in its mouth when filter feeding. Although these are the first Fin Whales we’ve see this year, we more commonly see them in the summer and early fall during our Blue Whale Watching season when krill and other prey can be abundant off our coast.