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Fin whales (Balaenoptera Physalus) can reach up to 90 feet
in length and a weight of 74 tons. They are the second largest animals
to have ever lived on this planet and your best chance to see a Fin
whale is around Loreto on a day trip from Cabo San Lucas, Baja, Mexico.
Tour operators generally advertise this as a Blue whale expedition, but
often Fin whales show up as well.
Fin whales are named for their prominent,
back sweeping dark colored dorsal fin. In the northern hemisphere Fin
whales grow to about 65 feet while in the southern hemisphere their
counterparts can exceed 75 feet. Fin whales in the Sea of Cortez tend to
reach about 60 feet and about 50 tonnes. The Fin whale has a slender
body type with brown to gray coloration and two lighter asymmetric
Upon surfacing, the Fin whale’s spout is
vertical and narrow, reaching up to 35 feet in height. Soon after the
head surfaces you can typically see the dorsal fin break the surface
which aids identification. In the Baja, Fin whales typically do not show
their flukes, instead bending their backs before a dive, dives
typically lasting less than 10 minutes. The population of Fin whales in the Sea of Cortez is recognized as genetically distinct from other populations of these animals due to their relative isolation.
The Fin whale has 60 – 100 folded pleats or
grooves that run from the mouth to the navel, allowing the throat to
greatly expand to consume large volumes of its small prey. They feed on
small schooling fish, squid and crustaceans like krill usually at depths
of up to 600 feet.
Fin whales reach sexual maturity between 6
and 12 years of age typically about 60 feet in length. They give birth
every 2 to 3 years to (usually) a single calf that is 20 feet long and
4000 pounds after an 11 month gestation period. The calf will stay with
the mother until it is 6 or 7 months old at about 35 feet in length.