Fin Whale


  • Fin Whale
  • Fin Whale
  • Fin Whale
  • Fin Whale
  • Fin Whale
  • Fin Whale
  • Fin Whale
  • Fin Whale

It is a seasonal resident of the Estuary and Gulf between May and late November, where it comes to feed.

In the St. Lawrence, certain individuals are faithful to their summer feeding grounds and return every year, while others have been observed just once or twice.

The species is present in all of the world’s oceans, from temperate waters to polar latitudes.

The fin whale appears in the List of threatened or vulnerable species in Quebec.

The Atlantic population is listed as “special concern” by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC).

The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s” (IUCN) List has listed the species as “endangered”.

The fin whale is a gulper.

It has a varied diet composed of planktonic crustaceans and small schooling fish.

Illustrated species: (from high to low, from left to right): capelin, krill, herring.

Newborns measure on average 6.4 m and weigh 1.9 t.
Females can give birth every 3 years.

They are observed alone, in pairs or in temporary groups the size of which varies from 3 to over 20 individuals.

The presence of food and tidal cycles influence their dispersion and grouping.

The sounds emitted by fin whales are in the low-frequency range.

Produced primarily in winter, these sequences may be used for mating rituals.

Very low-frequency pulsing sounds appear to be used for echolocation as well.

The highest-frequency sounds seem to be used for short-distance communication.

The fin whale rarely breaches.

Photo credit: Jean Lemire

It generally doesn’t show its tail when diving, a flexion movement of its supple body being sufficient to nosedive to the ocean depths.

The fin whale shows a marked preference for shallow coastal waters (100-200 m deep) and rugged seabeds.

It dives to various depths (from just below the surface to up to 230 m), with patterns linked to various activities (diurnal and nocturnal, travel, rest, exploration, feeding).

Since 1986, the GREMM has been managing the catalogue of fin whales photo-identification in the Estuary (around 100 individuals), which, just like a family photo album, makes it possible to track the lives of individuals the likes of Capitaine Crochet, Triangle, Caïman, Zipper, etc.

The catalogue compiled by MICS is composed of 450 individuals identified in the Gulf since 1980.

To discover all the studies dedicated to this specie, consult the research projects on the fin whale on Whales online.