Biodiversity

Species Profile and Threats Database


For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
 
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Vulnerable as Balaenoptera physalus
Cetacean as Balaenoptera physalus
Listed migratory - Bonn as Balaenoptera physalus
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, this species had a recovery plan in force at the time the legislation provided for the Minister to decide whether or not to have a recovery plan (19/2/2007).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans Blue, Fin and Sei Whale Recovery Plan 2005 - 2010 (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2005a) [Recovery Plan] as Balaenoptera physalus.
 
Policy Statements and Guidelines Marine bioregional plan for the Temperate East Marine Region (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2012aa) [Admin Guideline].
 
Industry Guidelines on the Interaction between offshore seismic exploration and whales (Department of the Environment and Water Resources (DEW), 2007h) [Admin Guideline].
 
Information Sheets Australian National Guidelines for Whale and Dolphin Watching (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2005e) [Information Sheet].
 
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Declaration under s178, s181, and s183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of threatened species, List of threatened ecological communities and List of threatening processes (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000) [Legislative Instrument] as Balaenoptera physalus.
 
Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - Amendment to the List of Migratory Species (03/12/2002) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2002d) [Legislative Instrument] as Balaenoptera physalus.
 
State Government
    Documents and Websites
TAS:Balaenoptera physalus (Fin Whale): Species Management Profile for Tasmania's Threatened Species Link (Threatened Species Section (TSS), 2014vw) [State Action Plan].
State Listing Status
SA: Listed as Vulnerable (National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 (South Australia): June 2011) as Balaenoptera physalus
TAS: Listed as Vulnerable (Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 (Tasmania): September 2012) as Balaenoptera physalus
WA: Listed as Vulnerable (Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 (Western Australia): September 2013) as Balaenoptera physalus
Non-statutory Listing Status
IUCN: Listed as Endangered (IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: 2011.2)
VIC: Listed as Data deficient (Advisory List of Threatened Vertebrate Fauna in Victoria: 2013)
Scientific name Balaenoptera physalus [37]
Family Balaenopteridae:Cetacea:Mammalia:Chordata:Animalia
Species author (Linnaeus, 1758)
Infraspecies author  
Reference  
Other names Balaenoptera physalis [64478]
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images
http://www.photolib.noaa.gov/animals/anim0844.htm

The current conservation status of the Fin Whale, Balaenoptera physalus, under Australian and State legislation and under international conventions, is as follows:

National: Listed as Vulnerable under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

South Australian: Listed as Vunerable under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972.

Tasmanian: Listed as Vunerable under the Threatened Species Protection Act 1995.

Western Australian: Listed as Rare or likely to become extinct under the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950.

Scientific name: Balaenoptera physalus

Common name: Fin Whale, Finback Whale

Two subspecies of Balaenoptera physalus are recognised: the Fin Whale (Northern Hemisphere) (Balaenoptera physalus physalus) and the Fin Whale (Southern Hemisphere) (Balaenoptera physalus quoyi) (Rice 1998).

Fin Whales are dark grey to brownish black dorsally, grading to pale or white ventrally. The undersides of the flippers and flukes are also white. The head is asymmetrical in colour and is mostly dark but the right lower jaw is white. Baleen plates are black on the left jaw and white on the right jaw. The body is free of mottling or extensive scarring. Some Fin Whales have a pale grey 'V' shaped chevron behind the head (Leatherwood & Reeves 1983).

The Fin Whale is the second-largest whale species, after the Blue Whale. Adult whales range between 20 and 27 m long and weigh more than 70 tonnes. As with other baleen whales, female Fin Whales grow to a larger size than males (Aguilar & Lockyer 1987). The Fin Whale is very streamlined in appearance, with a distinct ridge along the back behind the dorsal fin. The dorsal fin is set two-thirds of the way along the back, and is up to 60 cm tall, falcate (curved) and often slopes backwards (Leatherwood & Reeves 1983).

Fin Whales are more gregarious than other baleen whales, and often occur in groups of 6–10, though single animals and pairs are more common. Aggregations of over 100 whales may be observed on feeding grounds (Watkins et al. 1987).

Recordings of regular, pulsed sounds, seemingly of mechanical origin, attracted considerable military interest in the 1950s, and eventually these sounds were conclusively linked to sightings of Fin Whales (Schevill et al. 1964). Fin whale sounds are mostly 20 Hz or 22 Hz and are short, low-frequency tonal sequences (Nieukirk et al. 2004). Pulsed sounds include a "rumble" which is a call of very long duration (about 30 secs), in the frequency range of 10–30 Hz with extensive frequency and amplitude modulation. The association of these sounds with the reproductive season suggests that they may be used in reproductive displays by males (Watkins et al. 1987).

Fin Whale distribution in Australian waters is known primarily from stranding events and whaling records.

Fin Whale strandings have been reported in small numbers from Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania (Bannister et al. 1996). Two Fin Whale strandings have been reported in South Australia: one in 1925 off Port Wakefield, the other in 1999 north of Port Lincoln. One Fin Whale was reported stranded in Victoria in 1956 (Larcombe et al. 2002). There are two records of Fin Whale strandings in Western Australia: one yearling in 1951 near Mandurah, the other in 1996 at Cottesloe (Chittleborough 1996). There are three records of Fin Whale strandings in Tasmania (McManus et al. 1984).

Chittleborough (1996) reported that nine Fin Whales were taken during the whaling season in Western Australia between 1912 and 1937 and another three Fin Whales in the whaling seasons of 1953, 1956 and 1959. Fin Whales have been sighted inshore in the proximity of the Bonney Upwelling, Victoria, in the summer and autumn months during aerial surveys (Gill 2002). Fin Whale acoustics have been heard off the Rottnest Trench, Western Australia, between January and April 2000 (McCauley et al. 2000).

Several Fin Whales were sighted off Australia's Antarctic Territory (south of 55° S) during whale survey cruises (Ensor et al. 2002; Nishiwaki et al. 1998). The distribution of Fin Whales appears to be complex. In the Antarctic Circle and the subantarctic, this species is often found in areas of complex and steep bathymetry (sea floor topography), such as deep ravines where fish and other prey species are also known to concentrate (D. Thiele 2004, pers. comm.).

Fin Whale extent of occurrence and area of occupancy cannot be calculated due to sparsity of sighting records.

Fin Whales are considered a cosmopolitan species and occur from polar to tropical waters, and rarely in inshore waters. They show well defined migratory movements between polar, temperate and tropical waters (Mackintosh 1965). Migratory movements are essentially north–south with little longitudinal dispersion. Fin Whales regularly enter polar waters. Unlike Blue Whales and Minke Whales, Fin Whales are rarely seen close to ice (Mackintosh 1965); although recent sightings have occurred near the ice edge of Antarctica during Southern Ocean Whale and Ecosystem Research (SOWER) cruises (D. Thiele 2004, pers. comm.).

Non-migratory Fin Whales are found in the Gulf of California year-round and there is a resident population in the western Mediterranean (Berube et al. 2002). The population in the Gulf of California is small (around 400) and genetically isolated from the neighbouring North Pacific population (Berube et al. 2002). The Mediterranean population is also genetically distinct from the North Atlantic populations (Notarbartolo-di-Sciara et al. 2003.)

Fin Whale aggregation areas in the Northern Hemisphere include the eastern North Pacific Ocean (from the Chukchi Sea, around the coast of Alaska, south to Baja California), the western North Pacific Ocean (from the Philippine Sea, East China Sea, Yellow Sea, Sea of Japan, Bering Sea and Sea of Okhotsk), the western North Atlantic Ocean (from Cape Hatteras, Canada, Newfoundland and Cape Cod, in the north, to the Gulf of Mexico, Florida and the Greater Antilles, in the south) and the eastern North Atlantic Ocean (Norway, Iceland, Jan Mayen and the Spitsbergen Archipelago, in the north, to the Straits of Gibraltar in the south) (Gambell 1985a). During the Northern Hemisphere summer (June–August), Fin Whale are concentrated between the shore and the 1800 m bathymetric contour from 41° N to 57° N (Gambell 1985a).

Fin Whale aggregation areas in the Southern Hemisphere (excluding Australia) include the South Pacific Ocean, the Southern Ocean and the Indian Ocean including the coasts of New Zealand, Peru, Brazil and South Africa (Gambell 1985a).

Worldwide, Fin Whales have been severely reduced by whaling, which continued in some places until as recently as the 1980s. Prior to commercial harvesting, the abundance of Fin Whales in the Southern Hemisphere was estimated at around 500 000 and, consequently, may have reduced to 25 000 (Aguilar 2002; Bannister et al. 1996). Current Fin Whale populations are estimated to be 14 620–18 630 in the North Pacific Ocean (Ohsumi & Wada 1974); 22 000–42 000 in the North Atlantic Ocean (IWC 2007; Palka 2000); and 85 200 in the Southern Ocean (D. Thiele 2004, pers. comm.).

It is likely that Fin Whales migrate between Australian waters and the following external waters: Antarctic feeding areas (the Southern Ocean); subantarctic feeding areas (the Southern Subtropical Front); and tropical breeding areas (Indonesia, the northern Indian Ocean and south-west South Pacific Ocean waters) (D. Thiele 2004, pers. comm.).

No systematic surveys have been undertaken with the purpose of surveying Fin Whales in Australian waters. Fin Whales have been sighted opportunistically during aerial surveys for Blue Whales in the Bonney Upwelling (P.Gill 2004, pers.comm.).

Numerous sightings surveys have been conducted in Australian Antarctic waters under the Southern Ocean Cetacean Ecosystem Program (SOCEP), during which Fin Whales have been sighted but population estimates have not been reliably calculated (Thiele et al. 2000).

Reliable estimates of Fin Whale population size in Australia are not currently possible. The proportion of time that this species spends at the surface varies considerably depending on their behaviour and local ecology (e.g. whether they are travelling or foraging; depth at which prey occurs): thus, extrapolation of accurate population estimates are difficult.

There is insufficient information to describe the population structure of Fin Whales (DEH 2005a). Stocks of Fin Whales were depleted by commercial whalers (the north-east Pacific population is estimated at 32–44% of pre-exploitation stock (Braham 1984)) and there is insufficient information to indicate future changes in size in non-North Atlantic Ocean stock (IWC 2007).

Natural fluctuations are unknown for Fin Whales within Australian waters, but elsewhere, long-range movements appear food related. For example, studies in the Mediterranean have shown that food availability at a particular time and place is a function of environmental conditions in the previous months. It appears that Fin Whales adapt their movements and group size depending on long-term food availability rather than short-term environmental conditions (Littaye et al. 2004).

Fin Whales become sexually mature at 6–10 years of age and the average length of Southern Hemisphere animals (at sexual maturity) is 19 m for males and 20 m for females (Laws 1961). Physical maturity occurs at about 25–30 years. The calving interval ranges from two to three years (Agler et al. 1993; Laws 1961). Life expectancy is estimated to be 90–100 years.

Hybridisation between Fin Whales and Blue Whales has been documented in five cases (Berube & Aguilar 1998; Cipriano & Palumbi 1999; Spilliaert et al. 1991). The hybrids, three females and two males, were all taken in commercial whaling operations in the Northern Hemisphere.

The Fin Whale is known to feed in areas which lie within the Australian Whale Sanctuary. Antarctic feeding waters lie within the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Sightings of Fin Whales in Victorian waters overlap with a number of state Marine Parks which are principally reserved and managed for their benthic habitat (D. Thiele 2004, pers. comm.).

The Australian Antarctic waters are important feeding grounds for Fin Whales. Sightings of Fin Whales feeding in the Bonney Upwelling area indicate that this area is a potentially an important feeding ground (Morrice et al. 2004).

There are no known mating or calving areas in Australian waters. The sighting of a cow and calf in the Bonney Upwelling in April 2000 and the stranding of two Fin Whale calves in South Australia suggest that this area may be important to the species' reproduction, perhaps as a provisioning area for mothers with calves (Morrice et al. 2004).

Fin Whales are widely distributed in both hemispheres between latitudes 20–75° (Mackintosh 1966). This species is common in temperate waters, the Arctic Ocean and Southern Ocean. In the Southern Ocean/subAntarctic this species is often found in areas of complex and steep bathymetry, such as deep ravines, where fish and other prey are known to concentrate (D. Thiele 2004, pers. comm.).

Fin Whales in the Bonney Upwelling are sometimes seen in the vicinity of the endangered Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus) and vulnerable Sei Whale (Balaenoptera borealis), both of which are listed under the EPBC Act. It is uncertain whether these threatened species are competitors or associates of the Fin Whale.

Fin Whales become sexually mature at 6–10 years of age and the average length at sexual maturity is 19.2 m (Laws 1961). Life expectancy as shown by earplug laminations indicate that this species may live to nearly 100 years. Rates of natural mortality are unknown, but Fin Whales are subject to predation by Killer Whales (Orcinus orca) and possibly a number of shark species, as well as smaller parasites, infection and disease (D. Thiele 2004, pers. comm.).

Fin Whale breeding peaks in the winter and the gestation period is 11.25 months. Lactation extends over six or seven months. The mean calving interval is two to three years (Agler et al. 1993; Laws 1961). This low rate of reproduction has implications for the ability of a population to recover from low population numbers. Locations of breeding grounds are unknown (D. Thiele 2004, pers. comm.).

Fin Whales feed intensively in high latitudes and may also feed to some extent, depending upon prey availability and locality, in lower latitudes. Fin Whales feed on planktonic crustacea, some fish and cephalopods (crustaceans). In the Antarctic, they primarily feed on krill (Euphausia superba) (Nemoto 1970). There has been speculation that interspecific competition for food resources between both whale and non-whale predators may be critical to the biology of Fin Whales in the Southern Hemisphere (Kawamura 1994). However, there is no direct information on how such interactions may or may not affect the status of Fin and other whales (Clapham & Brownell 1996).

Fin Whales frequently lunge or skim feed at or near the surface. Fin Whales are known to dive to 230 m to feed. Surface feeding could make the whales vulnerable to entanglement in craypot lines and various nets. Fin Whales are killed by ship strike more than any other whale. Surface feeding could make Fin Whales particularly vulnerable to ship strike (D. Thiele 2004, pers. comm.).

In recent years, seismic surveys have occurred in areas of krill abundance, where Fin Whales have been seen feeding on occasion. Acoustic pollution (from activities such as commercial and recreational vessel noise, and seismic survey activity) has been identified as having the potential to degrade habitat important to the survival of Fin Whales. Habitat degradation may result in reduced occupancy and/or the exclusion of individual whales from suitable habitat, compromised reproductive success and mortality. It is possible that impacts on a sufficient number of individual whales could lead to broader impacts at the population level (DEH 2005a).

There is insufficient data to prescribe migration times for Fin Whales, but recent sightings in Australian waters include summer and autumn months (D. Thiele 2004, pers. comm.).

Fin Whales have been sighted inshore in the proximity of the Bonney Upwelling, Victoria, along the continental shelf in summer and autumn months (Gill 2002). Fin Whale-type calls, suggesting the presence of Fin Whales in the area, were recorded between January and April 2000 off the Rottnest Trench, Western Australia (McCauley et al. 2000).

The migration routes and location of winter breeding grounds are uncertain. During migration Fin Whales are segregated by sex as well as age: males migrate first and pregnant females migrate in advance of other sexual classes, with immature whales migrating last (Mackintosh 1965).

Identified threats outlined in the Blue, Fin and Sei Whale Recovery Plan 2005–2010 (DEH 2005a) are as follows:

The resumption of commercial whaling and/or the expansion of scientific whaling

The impacts of commercial hunting on Fin Whales have been well documented. While currently banned under the IWC moratorium on commercial whaling, the potential for commercial whaling to recommence exists, and pressure to resume whaling may increase as Fin Whale populations recover.

An additional area of concern is the potential expansion of indirect commercial whaling as a subsidary of scientific whaling. The IWC Convention allows member states to issue special permits to kill whales for research purposes and then process these animals for sale. Since 1986, Japan and Iceland have issued special permits for several whale species as part of their scientific whaling research programs. The recent expansion of these programs in the Northern Hemisphere involve the killing of various great whales including Minke, Bryde's, Fin, Sperm and Sei Whales. In addition, since the implementation of the Southern Ocean Sanctuary in 1994, Japan has continued to harvest Minke Whales in this area under special permits. Japan also had the ability to take ten Fin Whales during the 2005/06 and 2006/07 summer and have had the ability to take 50 Fin Whales per annum since then.

Habitat degradation

Given the limited knowledge about the use of habitat by Fin Whales, it is difficult to determine the extent of the threat of habitat degradation to these species.

A range of anthropogenic activities have the potential to degrade habitat important to the survival of Fin Whales. These activities may degrade habitat by operating at times that coincide with the presence of whales, or they may occur when whales are absent, but degrade habitat suitability on a permanent or semi-permanent basis. These activities may include:

  • acoustic pollution (e.g. commercial and recreational vessel noise, and seismic survey activity)
  • entanglement (e.g. in marine debris, fishing and aquaculture equipment)
  • physical injury and death from ship strike
  • built structures that impact upon habitat availability and/or use (e.g. marinas, wharves, aquaculture installations, mining or drilling infrastructure)
  • changing water quality and pollution (e.g. runoff from land based agriculture, oil spills, outputs from aquaculture)
  • changes to water flow regimes causing extensive sedimentation or erosion or altered currents in near shore habitat (e.g. canals and dredging).

Habitat degradation may result in reduced occupancy and/or exclusion of individual whales from suitable habitat, compromised reproductive success and mortality. It is possible that impacts on a sufficient number of individual whales could lead to broader impacts at the population level (e.g. by reducing recruitment to such an extent that species recovery is impeded). This would be more likely to arise where activities that cause habitat degradation occurred intensively and/or cumulatively, or over a large portion of their range.

Fin Whales frequently skim feed at or near the surface which makes them vulnerable to entanglement and particularly vulnerable to ship strike.

In recent years, seismic surveys have occurred in areas of krill abundance, where Fin Whales have occasionally been seen feeding. Acoustic pollution (from activities such as commercial and recreational vessel noise, and seismic survey activity) has been identified as having the potential to degrade habitat important to the survival of Fin Whales (Morrice et al. 2004). Habitat degradation may result in reduced occupancy and/or the exclusion of individual whales from suitable habitat, compromised reproductive success, and mortality. It is possible that impacts on a sufficient number of individual whales could lead to broader impacts at the population level (DEH 2005a).

Potential threats outlined in the Blue, Fin and Sei Whale Recovery Plan 2005–2010 (DEH 2005a) are as follows:

Climate and oceanographic change

Most of the world's leading scientists agree that global warming caused by human activity is occurring. The exact implications of these changes are unknown, but it is predicted that there will be reduced productivity of Southern Ocean ecosystems and unpredictable weather events caused by altered ocean water temperatures, changing ocean currents, rising sea levels and reductions in sea ice.

The potential impacts of climate and oceanographic change on Fin Whales may affect both habitat and food availability:

  • Whale migration, feeding, breeding, and calving site selection may be influenced by factors such as ocean currents and water temperature. Any changes in these factors could affect recovery by rendering currently used habitat areas unsuitable.
  • Changes to climate and oceanographic processes may also lead to decreased productivity and different patterns of prey distribution and availability. Such changes would certainly affect dependant predators such as Fin whales.

Prey depletion due to over harvesting

Fin Whales rely on krill as a main food source and require adequate supplies to accumulate energy reserves essential for migration and breeding. Depletion of krill through over harvesting may be a potential future threat for Australian populations of these species. However, it should be noted that:

  • The krill fishery is managed through the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) on an ecosystem basis which takes into account the needs of predators such as whales.
  • While the fishery is likely to grow, fishing currently occurs well within the current precautionary limits.

Other threats

When migrating through the East Marine Region, the Fin Whale may be affected by human interactions such as harassment, accidental collision, habitat loss or degradation, hunting, swimming programs, strandings and food stock reduction (DEW 2007a). Swimming, snorkelling or diving with whales has the potential to place both people and animals at risk (CRC Reef Research Center 2002 cited in DEW 2007a).

The low reproductive rate of the Fin Whale, i.e. one offspring every two–three years has implications for the populations ability to recover.

The Blue, Fin and Sei Whale Recovery Plan 2005–2010 (DEH 2005a) recommends the following recovery actions:

Implement a program to measure population abundance, trends and recovery for Australian populations of Fin Whales.

  • Included within this activity will be the need to:

    • engage in the IWC southern ocean survey process to determine meaningful population estimates for Fin whales
    • gather information on population structures and limits - e.g. through the use of genetic analysis.

Implement a program to better define the characteristics (spatial, temporal, physical) of calving, feeding, and migratory areas.

  • Included within this activity will be the need to:

    • gather information on movements, migrations, and feeding grounds - e.g. through the use of satellite tracking, acoustic monitoring and other survey methods
    • determine the values and characteristics of important migratory pathways and aggregation areas (calving, resting, and feeding) particularly in areas where human use is likely to impact upon the species.

Prevent commercial whaling and/or the expansion of scientific whaling.

  • Australia should maintain its position on promoting high levels of protection for Fin Whales in all relevant international agreements including the IWC, CITES, CMS, fisheries-related agreements, and Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings (ATCM).
  • Australia should continue to support a ban on direct take of Fin Whales.

Protect habitat important to the survival of the species.

  • Ensure that in areas important to the survival of the species environmental assessment process and research activities are in place to determine the level of impact and threat of human activities, and implement management measures to ensure the ongoing recovery of Fin Whales. This should include, but not be limited to, the following actions:

    • Assess and manage acoustic disturbance - including the development and application of administrative guidelines under the EPBC Act such as the Guidelines on the application of the EPBC Act to interactions between offshore Seismic operations and larger cetaceans (DEW 2007h).
    • Encourage best practice approaches that will reduce the likelihood of Fin Whales being entangled in marine debris, fishing and aquaculture equipment. If entanglements occur, manage the impact of individual entanglements where possible through the application of national standards for disentangling large cetaceans.
    • Ensure that habitat requirements of Fin Whales are considered in the establishment and management of marine conservation areas and reserves.
    • Manage the potential impacts of tourism - e.g. through the application of consistent Commonwealth and State tourism and whale watching regulations.
    • Assess and manage physical disturbance and development activities (such as ship-strike, aquaculture, pollution, recreational boating and exploration and extraction industries) - including the application of environmental impact assessment and approvals and the development of industry guidelines and State/Commonwealth government regulations.

  • Implement education programs to inform marine users (e.g. whale watchers, fishermen and shipping crews using important habitat) about best practice behaviours and regulations when interacting with whales.

Monitor and manage the potential impacts of prey depletion due to over harvesting.

  • Improve knowledge of Fin Whale feeding ecology and the ecology of prey species in order to determine if or when prey depletion becomes a threat.
  • Australia should support regional ecosystem approaches to krill management through its involvement in the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) and other programs.

Monitor climate and oceanographic change.

  • Develop an understanding of the effects of climate and oceanographic change on Fin Whale populations to determine if species survival and recovery are being, or are likely to be, affected.

Marine bioregional plans have been developed for four of Australia's marine regions - South-west, North-west, North and Temperate East. Marine Bioregional Plans will help improve the way decisions are made under the EPBC Act, particularly in relation to the protection of marine biodiversity and the sustainable use of our oceans and their resources by our marine-based industries. Marine Bioregional Plans improve our understanding of Australia's oceans by presenting a consolidated picture of the biophysical characteristics and diversity of marine life. They describe the marine environment and conservation values of each marine region, set out broad biodiversity objectives, identify regional priorities and outline strategies and actions to address these priorities. Click here for more information about marine bioregional plans.

The fin whale has been identified as a conservation value in the Temperate East (DSEWPaC 2012aa) Marine Region. The "species group report card - cetaceans" for the Temperate East (DSEWPaC 2012aa) Marine Region provides additional information.

There are no major studies in Australian waters.

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Biological Resource Use:Fishing and Harvesting Aquatic Resources:Commerical hunting of whales Blue, Fin and Sei Whale Recovery Plan 2005 - 2010 (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2005a) [Recovery Plan].
Biological Resource Use:Gathering Terrestrial Plants:Commercial harvest The Action Plan for Australian Cetaceans (Bannister, J.L., C.M. Kemper & R.M. Warneke, 1996) [Cwlth Action Plan].
Energy Production and Mining:Mining and Quarrying:Habitat destruction, disturbance and/or modification due to mining activities The Action Plan for Australian Cetaceans (Bannister, J.L., C.M. Kemper & R.M. Warneke, 1996) [Cwlth Action Plan].
Blue, Fin and Sei Whale Recovery Plan 2005 - 2010 (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2005a) [Recovery Plan].
Natural System Modifications:Dams and Water Management/Use:Alteration of hydrological regimes and water quality Blue, Fin and Sei Whale Recovery Plan 2005 - 2010 (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2005a) [Recovery Plan].
Pollution:Excess Energy:Seismic survey activities Blue, Fin and Sei Whale Recovery Plan 2005 - 2010 (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2005a) [Recovery Plan].
Pollution:Excess Energy:noise Blue, Fin and Sei Whale Recovery Plan 2005 - 2010 (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2005a) [Recovery Plan].
Pollution:Garbage and Solid Waste:Dumping of household and industrial waste The Action Plan for Australian Cetaceans (Bannister, J.L., C.M. Kemper & R.M. Warneke, 1996) [Cwlth Action Plan].
Pollution:Garbage and Solid Waste:Ingestion and entanglement with marine debris Blue, Fin and Sei Whale Recovery Plan 2005 - 2010 (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2005a) [Recovery Plan].
Pollution:Pollution:Deterioration of water and soil quality (contamination and pollution) Blue, Fin and Sei Whale Recovery Plan 2005 - 2010 (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2005a) [Recovery Plan].
Pollution:Pollution:spillage The Action Plan for Australian Cetaceans (Bannister, J.L., C.M. Kemper & R.M. Warneke, 1996) [Cwlth Action Plan].
Residential and Commercial Development:Tourism and Recreation Areas:Habitat modification, fragmentation and/or changed boat traffic caused by the construction and operation of marinas and wharves Blue, Fin and Sei Whale Recovery Plan 2005 - 2010 (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2005a) [Recovery Plan].
Species Stresses:Indirect Species Effects:Low numbers of individuals The Action Plan for Australian Cetaceans (Bannister, J.L., C.M. Kemper & R.M. Warneke, 1996) [Cwlth Action Plan].
Transportation and Service Corridors:Shipping Lanes:Collision with shipping infrastructure Blue, Fin and Sei Whale Recovery Plan 2005 - 2010 (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2005a) [Recovery Plan].

Agler, B.A., R.L. Schooley, S.F. Frohock, S.K. Katona & I.E. Seipt (1993). Reproduction of photographically identified fin whales, Balaenoptera physalus, from the Gulf of Maine. Journal of Mammology. 74:577-587.

Aguilar, A. (2002). Fin Whale (Balaenoptera physalus). In: Perrin, W.F., B. Wursig & J.G.W. Thewissen, eds. Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals. Page(s) 438. Orlando, Florida: Academic Press Inc.

Aguilar, A. & C. Lockyer (1987). Growth, physical maturity, and mortality of fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) inhabiting the temperate waters of the northeast Atlantic. Canadian Journal of Zoology. 65:253-264.

Bérubé, M. & A. Aguilar (1998). A new hybrid between a Blue Whale, Balaenoptera musculus, and a Fin Whale, B. physalus: frequency and implications of hybridization. Marine Mammal Science. 14(1):82-98.

Bannister, J.L., C.M. Kemper & R.M. Warneke (1996). The Action Plan for Australian Cetaceans. [Online]. Canberra: Australian Nature Conservation Agency. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/resource/action-plan-australian-cetaceans.

Berube, M., U.R. Jorge, A.E. Dizon4, R.L. Brownell & P.J. Palsbøll (2002). Genetic identification of a small and highly isolated population of Fin Whales (Balaenoptera physalus) in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico. Conservation Genetics. 3(2):183-190.

Braham, H. (1984). The status of endangered whales: an overview. Marine Fisheries Review. 46:2-6.

Chittleborough, G. (1996). Fin whales on the WA coast. Fisheries. Spr/Sum:45.

Cipriano, F. & S.R. Palumbi (1999). Genetic tracking of a protected whale. Nature. 397:307-308.

Clapham, P. & R.L. Brownell Jr (1996). Potential for interspecific competition in baleen whales. Report of the International Whaling Commission. 46:361-367.

Department of the Environment and Heritage (2005e). Australian National Guidelines for Whale and Dolphin Watching. [Online]. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/resource/australian-national-guidelines-whale-and-dolphin-watching-2005.

Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) (2005a). Blue, Fin and Sei Whale Recovery Plan 2005 - 2010. [Online]. Department of the Environment and Heritage. Canberra, Commonwealth of Australia. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/recovery/balaenoptera-sp/index.html.

Department of the Environment and Water Resources (DEW) (2007a). Draft East Marine Bioregional Plan: Bioregional Profile: A Description of the Ecosystems, Conservation Values and Uses of the East Marine Region.

Department of the Environment and Water Resources (DEW) (2007h). Industry Guidelines on the Interaction between offshore seismic exploration and whales. [Online]. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/publications/seismic.html.

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This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Balaenoptera physalus in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Fri, 25 Apr 2014 00:13:25 +1000.