Libman19's picture

Fin whale or possibly Blue ?

Observed: 17th October 2012 By: Libman19Libman19’s reputation in Mammals
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Description:

At the time I took these photo's I was pretty sure that this was a Fin whale, however, looking at them again I am not quite so sure because this animal looks considerably larger than the Fin whales I have seen in the past.

Identifications
Species interactions

No interactions present.

Comments

Mydaea's picture

It is not blue whale. Why do

It is not blue whale. Why do you exclude Minke?

Libman19's picture

Fin whale ?

Hello Mydaea,

Thanks for your question. It isn't very clear from the photo's, it is difficult to convey scale when there is only sea in the background; but this animal was much larger than any Minke whale that I have seen or heard of. I photographed other whales on that trip that I was happy to ID as Fin, this one just seemed to be a fair bit larger.

Can you tell me why you say it is not a Blue ?

Mydaea's picture

It is the wrong colour - too

It is the wrong colour - too black. If you don't see the shape of the blow and the method of the dive it is not easy to separate rorquals, and size is very difficult to estimate at sea. Minke can be >10m, and can look very big. I am not sure you could get an ID from these pictures.

mattprince1969's picture

Doesn't look right for a minke

Minke only ever get a little bit bigger than 10m and can normally be told fairly easily by the dive sequence. Even the larger examples roll through the water fairly quickly, and usually arch their backs and tail stocks quite pronouncedly.

Its certainly not a blue - note colour on blue whales is very variable - but the rostrum and fin are visible in the same photograph - its not big enough. Blue whales seem to roll forever before the apology of a fin comes into view.

Sei is another possibility, that can't be ruled out, but a fin whale would seem most likely.

mattprince1969's picture

and plymouth ..

seems to have moved a bit :)

Libman19's picture

Fin ?

Hi Mattprince,

Thanks for your comments. My feeling is that it almost certainly is a Fin; It was just the overall size that was causing me to doubt it, perhaps I haven't seen enough Fins to get a good idea.

I'm not too sure how Plymouth got in there !

Cheers

mattprince1969's picture

I find size difficult to estimate at sea

Especially from the upper decks of a fast moving ferry like the Plymouth/Santander and Portsmouth/Bilbao vessels.

You've made me nostalgic for the "good old days" when the Plymouth / Santander was a slow moving job with a decent viewing platform on the front deck and little shears criss crossing under the bow...

>sniff<

gramandy's picture

I am also....

...troubled by the pics for ID - I have to abstain on this one. I have tried. ...But with your permission I know a man that will have a better stab than me if I can borrow your pic. Let me know.
Either Fin or Minke - another look I think I agree Fin.

Libman19's picture

Fin whale ?

Hello Gramandy1,
I'm more than happy to let you "borrow" any of the pics for ID purposes. I am erring on the side of Fin myself.

gramandy's picture

I have contacted...

...the seawatch foundation and they agree it is a Fin Whale. They would like to use your sighting for record purposes. Is this ok? Danielle is the contact - just say Graham from Kent. grahamrickett1@gmail.com

www.seawatchfoundation.org.uk

Libman19's picture

Fin whale ?

Hello again Graham,

I have contacted Danielle and am happy for her to do whatever she wants with the record. Perhaps I should add that I am a member of ORCA, but the pics were taken in my free time and not on a survey, so I haven't actually shown them within the group.

Cheers

mattprince1969's picture

Its in the proportion of head to back to fin

The proportions of the head to back to fin size in the first picture rule out minke, even though not all of the head is visible.

i.e. If most of the head is submerged then the fin is too small. If more than half is visible then the back is too long in proportion.

If it was a blue then the fin shouldn't be visible when the rostrum is, not unless the animal was logging, which this isn't.