Is the Fin Whale Endangered?
While bringing joy and ebullience to the vast and diverse ecosystem out at sea, fin whales face many threats and challenges to their well-being and survival. In the mid-1900s, 725,000 fin whales in the southern hemisphere alone were killed by commercial whalers. Between 1947 and 1987 whalers killed about 46,000 fin whales in the North Pacific. Gratefully, between the years 1970 and 1980, commercial whaling was discontinued, making the devastating practice of whaling no longer a threat to these incredible giants. Although whaling is no longer a major threat to this species, some hunting does exist in Greenland with whaling subsistence from the International Whaling Commission (IWC).
The biggest threat that currently faces the fin whale population comes from vessel strikes. Other threats include ocean noise that causes the whales to strand and ultimately die. In addition, entanglement in fishing gear is also a threat to fin whales, as they can often become entangled in different gears such as pots, gillnets, and traps. Once entangled, the whales can swim while dragging the attached gear for long distances, ensuing in compromised feeding, fatigue, severe injury leading to problems with reproduction, and sadly, even death.