Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) COSEWIC assessment and status report: chapter 13

Technical Summary - Atlantic Population

Balaenoptera physalus

Fin whale (Atlantic Population) – rorqual commun (population de l'Atlantique)

Range of Occurrence in Canada:

Northwest Atlantic Ocean

Extent and Area Information

Extent of occurrence (EO) (km²)

>20,000 km²

Specify trend in EO :

None known

Are there extreme fluctuations in EO?


Area of occupancy (AO) (km²)

>20,000 km²

Specify trend in AO :

None known

Are there extreme fluctuations in AO?


Number of known or inferred current locations

Specify trend in # :

None known

Are there extreme fluctuations in number of locations?


Specify trend in area, extent or quality of habitat :

None known

Population Information

Generation time (average age of parents in the population) :

20–30 years

Number of mature individuals :


Total population trend:


% decline over the last/next 10 years or 3 generations.

No indication of decline

Are there extreme fluctuations in number of mature individuals?


Is the total population severely fragmented?


Specify trend in number of populations:

None known

Are there extreme fluctuations in number of populations?


List populations with number of mature individuals in each:

not applicable

Threats (actual or imminent threats to populations or habitats)

  • Collisions with large vessels
  • Interactions with fisheries including entanglement in gear
  • Noise pollution from industrial and recreational activities
  • Chemical pollution

Rescue Effect (immigration from an outside source)

Status of outside population(s)?

Similarly depleted : Similarly depleted

Is immigration known or possible?

Yes, possible

Would immigrants be adapted to survive in Canada?


Is there sufficient habitat for immigrants in Canada?


Is rescue from outside populations likely?

Yes, likely

Quantitative Analysis

None available

Current Status

COSEWIC: Special Concern (May 2005)

Status and Reasons for Designation

Status: Special Concern

Alpha-numeric code: N/A

Reasons for Designation: The size of this population was reduced by whaling during much of the 20th Century. However, sightings remain relatively common off Atlantic Canada and they have not been hunted since 1971. The current abundance and level of depletion compared with pre-whaling numbers are uncertain. The whales face a number of current threats including ship strikes and entanglement in fishing gear, but none is believed to seriously threaten the population.

Applicability of Criteria

  • Criterion A (Declining Total Population): Although whaled over the last 3 generations, the level of decline and current abundance are uncertain.
  • Criterion B (Small Distribution, and Decline or Fluctuation): AO and EO > 20,000 km².
  • Criterion C (Small Total Population Size and Decline): No evidence of current decline.
  • Criterion D (Very Small Population or Restricted Distribution): Unlikely to be less than 1,000 mature individuals.
  • Criterion E (Quantitative Analysis): No quantitative analysis has been undertaken.
Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: