All about Fin Whales

Seeing a rare and beautiful species of whale, the fin whale, is an unforgettable experience. While there are very few fin whales on Earth, Stellwagen Bank near Plymouth Harbor is one of the primary feeding grounds for the fin whale and one of the few places on the planet to see this majestic creature. To learn more about fin whales before you go whale watching, continue reading.

Surfacing Fin Whale ( Balaenoptera physalus)


Fin whales , also called fin-backed whales, are considered endangered by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and “Depleted” by the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wildlife Fauna and Flora (CITES) categorizes the fin whale under “Appendix I,” which is the CITES conservation status with the greatest level of protection.


Commercial whaling was historically the biggest threat to fin whales. Modern threats include collisions with vessels, becoming tangled in fishing gear, reduced food due to overfishing, habitat destruction, and disruption from low-frequency noise.


Found in groups as few as 2 and as large as 7 or more, fin whales weigh between 80,000 and 160,000 pounds. They and are roughly 75 to 85 feet long, making them the second-largest species of whale in the Northern Hemisphere. They have a sleek body with distinctive coloration patterns and a V-shaped head. Their back and sides are dark brownish-gray or black, while the underside is white. In the summertime, Fin whales feed on krill, squid, and small schooling fish, such as capelin, herring, and sand lance; in the winter, they fast.

Habitat and Distribution

Fin whales live in deep, offshore waters in every major ocean on earth, but they prefer temperate and polar latitudes to the tropics. Population trends of the fin whale are difficult to determine, but the bulk of them are near Alaska and the west coast, with a decent population in the Western North Atlantic.

Captain John Whale Watching & Fishing Tours of Plymouth, MA has offered eco-friendly whale watching tours since 1946. If you want to go whale watching in the Cape Cod area with a sighting guaranteed, visit our website to buy whale watch tickets today. Call us at (508) 746-2643 for more information.

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