The fin whale ( Balaenoptera physalus), also called the finback whale, razorback, or common rorqual, is a marine mammal belonging to the suborder of baleen whales. It is the second longest animal in the world and second largest rorqual after the blue whale, growing to over 27 metres (89 ft) long and weighing nearly 74 tonnes (73 long tons; 82 short tons). The American naturalist Roy Chapman Andrews called the fin whale "the greyhound of the sea" due to its slender build and great speed when chased.
Long and slender, the fin whale's body is brownish-grey with a paler underside. There are at least two recognized subspecies: the fin whale of the North Atlantic, and the fin whale of the Southern Hemisphere. It is found in all the world's major oceans, from polar to tropical waters. It is absent only from waters close to the ice pack at both the north and south poles and relatively small areas of water away from the open ocean. The highest population density occurs in temperate and cool waters. Its food consists of small schooling fish, squid, andcrustaceans including copepods and krill.
Like all other large whales, the fin whale was heavily hunted during the twentieth century and is an endangered species. Over 725,000 fin whales were reported taken from the Southern Hemisphere alone between 1905 and 1976 and there are now thought to be only 38,000 in that region (ref. to 1997). The International Whaling Commission (IWC) has issued a moratorium on commercial hunting of this whale, although Iceland and Japan have resumed hunting: in 2009 and 2010, Iceland took 125 and 148 fin whales, while Japan has taken four fin whales in three seasons (2008-11) of whaling in the Antarctic. The species is also hunted by Greenlanders under the Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling provisions of the IWC. Estimates suggest that the population of the remaining fin whales in the world's seas range from less than 100,000 to roughly 119,000. Collisions with ships and noise from human activity also significantly threaten recovery.
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