The North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission


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Fin Whale

Finhval VisitGreenland
Fin whale off Greenland. Photo: Visit Greenland


The fin whale is a large baleen whale, the second largest living animal, second in size only to the blue whale. Fin whales are the most streamlined in appearance of all the rorquals and have been  nicknamed "razorback". They are dark grey to brownish black in colour along the top of the body, with an asymmetrically pigmented head. Females are slightly longer than males. Adult males average 19 m and adult females 20.5 m in the Northern Hemisphere, weighing between 45 and 75 tonnes. Fin whale blows are tall and impressive and can often be seen at a great distance. Fin whales are sleek, fast swimmers. 

 Fin summer dist all NASS coda Snessa

Summer distribution of fin whales in the North Atlantic, showing sightings and effort from all North Atlantic Sightings surveys, 1987 - 2007, as well as 2007 CODA and SNESSA surveys.


Over 50,000 fin whales in the North Atlantic (NAMMCO 2011ac).


Over the entire NAMMCO area, ranging from polar to tropical waters, but not close to ice.

Most common in the East Greenland - Iceland - Jan Mayen area and west of the Iberian Peninsula during summer.

Relation to Humans

Annual catches since 2000:

- Greenland: <14 whales
- Iceland: from 0 to 148 whales since 2006.

Conservation and Management

International management regime by NAMMCO and the International Whaling Commission.

Clear evidence of recovery in the North Atlantic. Population likely close to or larger than before the onset of modern whaling (1880s).

The populations of the Central stock (EGI) and the West Greenland area (WG), the two areas from which catches are taken, are considered in a healthy state and can sustain catches (latest assessments: IWC 2010c, NAMMCO 2011bc).


North Atlantic management areas: exploitation and assessment status

Fin assessment table new colour