Fin whale Balaenoptera physalus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Suborder: Mysticeti Family: Balaenopteridae

Sightings in Madeira

March to October

ID characteristics

Very large, elongated, dark-grey to brownish-black body with whitish undersides
Flattish V shaped head with narrow longitudinal ridge and asymmetrical pigmentation
Short, dorsal fin with shape and angle very variable

Surface behaviour

Can be a slower swimmer when in leisure but one of the fastest reaching 16 knots (30km/h)
When surfacing head comes out of the water first with blow and rear body appears, arched, after head is underwater. Rarely shows flukes when diving.


Worldwide, mainly in deep offshore waters at temperate latitudes and southern hemisphere though its separate populations may be all the way to 80º North and 80º South.


3 to 7 individuals


Krill, crustaceans, fish and squid


Max length: 27 meters
Adult weight: 30 to 80 ton


Vertical, occasionally cone shaped, up to 6 meters high

IUCN Status: Endangered
Madeira frequency status: Common

Other languages common names

ENG - Common Rorqual, Finback whale, Razorback Whale
GER - Finnwal
FRA - Baleine à nageoires, Baleine fin, Baleinoptère commune, Rorqual commun
ESP - Rorcual Común, Ballena de Aleta
SWE - Sillval
DAN - Finhval
ITA - Balenottera comune
NED - gewone vinvis
NOR - Finnkval, Finnhval
POL - Finwal
POR - Baleia comum, Baleia-fin e Rorqual-comum

Join Madeira Wildlife Monthly Newsletter. All the updates on your email every month.