Reaching lengths of 85 feet (26 m) and above and weighing more than 80 tons, fin whales are the second largest animals on Earth after the colossal blue whale. They are found in all the world’s major oceans, from tropical waters to the poles. Like other whale species, southern fin whales migrate seasonally, from Antarctic feeding grounds in the summer to low-latitude breeding and calving areas in the winter.
Fin whales are quite easy to identify thanks to their sleek appearance and streamlined bodies. They also have a distinctive, hooked dorsal fin about two-thirds of the way down their backs. Their sleek shape allows them to swim at speeds of around 25 miles per hour, making them the fastest of all the great whales. This helps them to feed, as they lunge open-mouthed at schools of krill and small fish, taking in both their prey and huge amounts of water. They then expel the water and swallow the remaining food. An adult fin whale eats as much as two tons of food each day.
Fin whales are more sociable than other Antarctic whales, which tend to swim alone or in pairs. They are often spotted in groups of two to seven individuals, and the largest feeding groups may include more than 50 animals. Like other whales, they communicate using long and loud vocalizations. These calls, along with those made by blue whales, are the lowest-frequency sounds made by any animal. When first recorded by biologists, the researchers believe the sounds must have been made by some kind of geophysical phenomena or perhaps by a Soviet submarine detection system. Only later did they prove that the sounds were made by fin whales.
Fin whales live peaceful lives, but they do have one natural predator. Killer whales are known to hunt and attack fin whales, often harassing them in groups of 10 or more and chasing them over long distances. The fin whale only has one option: to flee as fast as possible.
Other Antarctica Wildlife
Adélie Penguin / Chinstrap Penguin / Emperor Penguin / Gentoo Penguin / Macaroni Penguin / Crabeater Seal / Elephant Seal / Fur Seal / Leopard Seal / Ross Seal / Weddell Seal / Blue Whale / Humpback Whale