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When a Fin Whale Flukes

Kera's avatar

Whale Watching | Mammals

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Fin whales are the second largest animal in the world, only second to the blue whale. If you were to read up on the fin whale you would probably learn the longest recorded is about 89 feet, they look similar to blues, and that they rarely raise their tale out of the water while diving (fluking). Having read up on fin whales myself numerous times, when I saw a fin whale fluke I couldn’t believe my eyes! And even more amazing, I’ve seen fin whales fluke three times this year!

In my two years of whale watching, one thing I’ve really noticed about fin whales is how good they are at surprising me! They’re already an interesting whale to look at because they have two different colors on their jaw. The bottom right jaw is white while the bottom left is black. That alone makes looking at fin whales pretty fun. Sometimes they’ll shy away from the boat and aren’t very interesting to watch, but so many other times they’ll give you a great, surprising, show. For example, they’ll be heading away from you and go down and then two minutes later surface right in front of the boat. We’ve had a fin whale come so close to the boat before, when they exhaled, they literally blew right in my face! It doesn’t smell so great either I might add. I always tell people with fin whales, DO NOT put your camera’s down! They’re notorious for tricking us and giving us a great show!

A lot of people ask me if we’re going to see the tail come up out of the water. It typically depends on which whales we’re looking at. There’s a pretty good chance when you’re looking at gray whales, blue whales, and humpback whales. Fin whales aren’t really known for showing their flukes, and in pretty much any book you read, they’re going to say it’s a rare sighting. When we’re looking at fin whales, I warn everyone that it always looks like they’re going to finish bringing up the tale as they make a dive, but hardly ever do. However, on three different occasions this year, I was once again surprised and saw a fin whale fluke!

As it turns out, all three fluking fins are the same whale! I was able to look at pictures and ID each whale! So we’ve seen the same fin whale in March, June, and October this year! How exciting! If you’d like possibly see a fin whale fluke, join us on our whale watch excursions!

When a Fin Whale Flukes
The fin whale fluke shot from March 2009  | Kera Mathes
When a Fin Whale Flukes
The right side of the fin whales lower jaw is light colored. The left side is black!  | Kera Mathes
When a Fin Whale Flukes
The bottom left side of the fin whales jaw is black like the top of the head.  | Kera Mathes

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Thursday, October 29, 2009 11:20 AM

Love your blog!
I am thinking of taking my family on this whale watching trip first week of Nov 09 what are the chances of sightings at that time?

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Thursday, October 29, 2009 12:12 PM

Hi Maria!  Thank you so much.  As far as sightings for November, around that time there’s a possibility that we could be seeing the first grays whales passing by as they head south to the lagoons in Mexico.  It might be a little early, however, there was a possible gray whale sighting last week, so that’s good news!  We also had a few blues sticking around too. The fin whales are here through out the year and we’ll see them in patches.  As you know, with wildlife, there are never guarantees, but last year we had a good number of sightings around that time!

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