Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Whales and New Jersey: Fin Whales

The first international agreement to halt whale hunting was reached in the mid-1930s as a reaction to the decline of various whale species.

Six species were listed by the federal government as endangered in 1970 and as a result of that they were automatically added to the New Jersey endangered species list following enactment of the New Jersey Endangered and Nongame Species Conservation Act in 1973.

Fin whale exhaling off Greenland - Wikimedia

The fin whale of the North Atlantic (Balaenoptera physalus) is one of those species.

They can reach lengths of 24.1 m (79 ft.). They have a blue-black body and a white underside with a distinctive grayish-white chevron on the back behind the head. Its V-shaped snout has a single dorsal ridge running down its middle. Its mouth is also quite distinctive, with the right lower jaw lip white, in contrast to the black left lower jaw. The fin whale's head is flat, and far back is situated a steeply angled dorsal fin.

When this whale spouts through its blowhole - a way many whales can be identified -  the blow is tall and columnar in shape.

Estimates of whale populations are "estimates" and not very reliable. For western North Atlantic fin whales, the best available conservative population estimate is 2,200.

Whale, North Atlantic right**Eubalaena glacialis**
Whale, blue**Balaenoptera musculus**
Whale, fin**Balaenoptera physalus**
Whale, humpback**Megaptera novaeangliae**
Whale, sei**Balaenoptera borealis**
Whale,sperm**Physeter macrocephalus**
**Federally Endangered


Fin Whale by Amila Tennakoon on Flickr

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