Fin Whale Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Diane Sieverson

Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.

Fin whales are the second largest animal on the planet. This lesson will teach you about fin whales, how big they are, what they eat, where they live, how old they can get, and some other cool facts about this ocean animal.

What Is a Fin Whale?

Imagine floating in a boat in the middle of the ocean when suddenly, you see a fin sticking out of the water. But as it swims by, you see a long, skinny whale instead of a shark. You've just seen a fin whale!

Fin whales are the second biggest animal on Earth, with only the blue whale being larger. They have a curved dorsal fin, thin bodies, and pointy heads. Their bodies are black or dark grayish-brown with white stomachs.

Fin whale
Fin whale

Fin whales get their name from the fin on their back, but they have other names, too. Fin whales are also called common rorqual, herring whale, and razorback, among other names. They are fast swimmers, zipping along at an average of 17 miles per hour.

Fin whales can weigh as much as 160,000 pounds, which is about the same as 11 African elephants! The longest ones grow to be around 85 feet long, which is a little longer than 2 average-sized school buses.

Fin of a fin whale
Fin of a fin whale

Fin whales can even get as old as some people, typically living between 80 and 90 years. Since you can't ask a fin whale how old it is, scientists count how many layers of wax plugs are in their ear canal to figure out their approximate age!

Where Do Fin Whales Live?

Fin whales are found in oceans all over the world, including the north Atlantic, north Pacific, Arctic, and Indian Oceans. They are also found in the Mediterranean Sea.

Though you probably like to swim in warmer water, fin whales prefer cool water. They can even be found in cold water near the North and South Poles.

Fin whales usually live alone or meet up in small groups but usually, the small groups are only together for a short time and aren't organized. When these whales migrate, or move to different places during certain times of the year, they can travel in very large groups - anywhere from 50 to 300 whales migrating together!

They like deep waters far away from shore. Fin whales still have to look out for killer whales since they are the only animal that hunts them, except for humans.

What Do Fin Whales Eat?

Fin whales are baleen whales, which means they have plates that act like strainers in their mouth instead of teeth. The baleen plates are made of the same thing your fingernails are made of.

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