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Top 5 Places to See Fin Whales

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The fin whale/ finback whale is the second largest animal to ever live! Reaching lengths of at least 85 feet (26 m) and weights of 80 tons, this species is second only to its close relative, the blue whale.

Their incredible size is only possible because of their aquatic lifestyles and the buoyancy provided by seawater. 

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Next to the blue whale, the fin whale is the second largest mammal in the world. They have a distinct ridge along their back behind the dorsal fin, which gives it the nickname “razorback.” Fin whales have a very unusual feature: the lower right jaw is bright white and the lower left jaw is black.

Are you intrigued to find out more about the fin whale and where to view fin whales? Read on or jump to the headline that piques your interest.

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Where to view fin whales



Mass: 48 000 kg (Adult) 
Length: 18 – 20 m (Northern hemisphere population, Adult)
Scientific name: Balaenoptera physalus
Trophic level: Carnivorous 
Family: Balaenopteridae
Gestation period: 11 months 
The size of a Fin whale compared to a human .

Fin whale fun facts

1. Fin whales are the second largest whale species growing up to 26 m long and weighing up to 72.3 metric tons.

2. Fin whales can live for 80 to 90 years.

3. Fin whales have accordion-like throats that help them gulp up to 1.8 metric tons of food a day.

4. Fin whales are named for their prominent, hooked dorsal fins found near their tails.

5. Fin whales are the fastest of all great whales capable of swimming up to 23 miles per hour/ 23 kmph.



Fin Whales’ social structure can vary depending on where in the world they are located. This may depend on scarcity of food or age ranges. Fin whales have been observed as solo animals, in pairs, and in pods of usually up to 6. However pods of much greater numbers, from 50 up to 300, have also been seen. These larger pods are usually seen during annual migrations.

The vocalizations of blue and fin whales are the lowest-frequency sounds made by any animal.


These whales may be located worldwide in tropical to polar latitudes. Fin whales are found in deep, offshore waters of all major oceans, primarily in temperate to polar latitudes. They are less common in the tropics. If lucky, one can view fin whales along most coastal stretches of the polar latitudes, dependent on the right time of year, of course.

This range may be described as a cosmopolitan distribution because it extends across all or most of the world in appropriate habitats. Such a taxon( species) is said to exhibit cosmopolitanism or cosmopolitism. A great insight from Top 5 Places to See Fin Whales.


Their habitat is open ocean (pelagic); rarely coastal. Like other large whales, fin whales are thought to migrate between feeding and breeding grounds. That said, resident populations do exist, and both the Gulf of California in Mexico and the Mediterranean are home to resident populations of fin whales. A great place to view fin whales in the Pelagos Sanctuary/ Mediterranean sea marine mammals protected area.

Life Span and Breeding

Full physical maturity is attained between 25 and 30 years. Fin whales have an average lifespan of about +/ – 90 years although specimens have been found aged at an estimated 135–140 years

juvenile fin whale

Mating occurs in temperate, low-latitude seas during the winter, followed by an 11- to 12-month gestation period. Females reproduce every 2 or 3 years with usually single births and calves remain with their mothers for about one year.

Can you dive or swim with Fin whales

Fin whales are not predatory. They filter feed for tiny krill or small pelagic fishes and are totally harmless to people (other than through accidental collisions). However it is not advised to have close encounters due to there sheer size that could pose threat to human physique. Divers are not permitted to enter the water within 100 feet of a whale.

Speed is also the one discipline, in which the blue whale can’t trump the finback: A blue whale’s 30 km/h are no challenge for the finback. Their top speed is up to 47 km/h, which earned the gray whales this nickname: “Greyhound of the Seas”. Therefore it is difficult to experience close encounters with these whales.


Status Endangered 

Hunted by commercial whalers until the last century for oil, meat, and baleen, fin whales in the North Atlantic are listed as endangered. Some populations are faring better as a result. Like other large whales, fin whales are threatened by environmental change including habitat loss, toxic waste, pollutants and climate change. 

view fin whales; ocean pollution

 Over the past 100 years, the dramatic increase in ocean noise from shipping and naval activity may have slowed the recovery of the fin whale population, by impeding communications between males and receptive females.

Collisions have also unfortunately played an impact in threatening fin whales: Collisions with ships are a major cause of mortality. In some areas, they cause a substantial portion of large whale stranding. Most serious injuries are caused by large, fast-moving ships over or near continental shelves.

Small changes you can make:

  • Rethinking, reducing, reusing plastics.
  • Protesting commercial whaling.
  • Creating awareness about overfishing, reducing the amount of fish consumed.
  • Practicing eco tourism, doing your research before a tour.
  • Donating to marine protection.


The Top 5 places to view Fin Whales

view fin whales; one adult

1. Canada ( Quebec & Nova Scotia)

The east coast of Canada is characterized by the mighty Gulf of St. Lawrence, which stretches from Quebec to New Brunswick and Newfoundland to Labrador.

This region is rich with fish and one of the best places to watch whales in summer: Minke whales, humpbacks and finbacks often get close to the coast. Most of all, you have good chances of meeting blue whales here in summer and belugas are here even all year long.

view fin whales in canada

In Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, whales are best watched from Halifax, in the Bay of Fundy and from Cape Breton. In spring, finbacks and minke whales are the first to show up in these waters, followed by dolphins and humpbacks, which arrive in June and stay until the end of August. In the Bay of Fundy, you also have chances of seeing northern right whales, of which there are only a few hundred left. Main season starts a bit later and ends a bit earlier than at Quebec.


Quebec City

Quebec by the sea

Nova Scotia Mariner Cruises

Nova Scotia Whale Watching

2. North Pacific Sea: California ( Oregon and Washington)

Whale watching has a long tradition in California with the first tours taking place in the 1950s. It was mostly gray whales on their way north that were watched. Humpbacks and finbacks can be seen quite often, too.

view fin whales in america; california

As everywhere along the coast of North America, whale watching focuses on migrating gray whales. Every year, they travel back and forth between their feeding grounds in the arctic and their subtropical mating grounds.

 From November to February they pass California on the way south and again from February to May (April mostly) on their way back north – together with their calves, which is why they stay closer to the coast then.

The Oregon coast to Washington state also offers beauty to its beholder in migrations of many types of whales, most prominently, the Gray whale. Oregon’s whale watching season peaks twice a year: during winter (mid-December–mid-January) and spring (late February–May)


Santa Cruz Whale watching

Oregon Whales

3. The Azores

Whale watching is one of the main attractions for tourists to visit the Azores, some explicitly coming just for the whales. Most tours start at the islands of San Miguel, Faial and Pico.

view fin whales in the azores

You can spot about 30% of all types of whales from all over the world from here, including blue whales, finbacks and sperm whales.


Futurismo Azores Adventures

Terra Azul Tours

Terra Dopico Tours: Whale watching and Boat Tours on Sao Miguel Island

4. Mediterranean Sea

Satellite tracking revealed that those found in Pelagos Sanctuary migrate southward to off Tunisia, Malta, Pantelleria, and Sicily, and also possibly winter off coastal southern Italy, Sardinia,

View fin whales in the Mediterranean sea

The Sanctuary is a marine area of 87,500 sq. km subject to an agreement between Italy, Monaco and France for the protection of marine mammals, which live in it.


Tethys Tours

Ecomarine malta Tours

5. North Atlantic Sea: Greenland

Up to 15 different kinds of whales live in the waters around Greenland. Most of them are rare encounters, though. Humpbacks, finbacks and minke whales are regularly spotted between July and September. Number 5 from the list of Top 5 Places to See Fin Whales.

The south and west of Greenland are especially interesting for whale watching: Most tour operators in the south can be found at Nuuk and Sisimiut and at Disko Bay, Ilulissat and Aasiat in the west. Also at Uummannaaq a bit further up north.


Greenland Tours

Visit Greenland

Greenland Travel

Summary on Top 5 Places to See Fin Whales

Have you noted down the top five locations in which to view fin whales; the second largest marine mammal in the world! We hope that this blog will serve as an inspiration to look out for these incredible animals that have stood the test of time, but now need our help to maintain their ecological habitats, decreasing amounts of pollution and threats to their population.

If you are a lover of whales, take a look at our other blogs in our series featuring these gentle giants of the ocean. The complete overview of our whales and the Gray Whales can be two articles you can start with.

We hope these blogs can act as an all inclusive guide to whale watching, for the readers who are itching to pack their binoculars and picnics, and set out along the coasts of the world in sight of whale-themed adventure!

Let us know which whales you have been privileged to see in the wild?

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