Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) COSEWIC assessment and status report: chapter 12

Summary of Status Report

While current and pre-exploitation estimates of population size in both the North Atlantic and the North Pacific are imprecise, there is no doubt that these populations were reduced by commercial whaling. There is no conclusive evidence on population trends. Directed surveys are needed.

Efforts to estimate population size for this species are confounded by its extensive range and the potential confusion with sei whales. The expense associated with large-scale surveys is a significant limiting factor, particularly in the more remote, offshore waters of British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador.

The fin whale is less constrained in its diet than either the right whale or the blue whale. Like the sei and humpback whales, it preys on small schooling fish as well as zooplankton. This flexibility in diet may make it more capable of adapting to changing ecological conditions.

Direct threats include entanglement in fishing gear, particularly in Atlantic Canada, and ship strikes. Neither of these threats is abating. Habitat degradation from acoustic pollution, chemical contamination and reductions in prey populations is also a concern.

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