Whale Tail span

From: Nancy Stevick (Nancy.Stevick@btinternet.com)
Date: Sun Feb 06 2000 - 10:18:50 EST

On 5 February 2000 Carl Marshall wrote:

>We were wondering how large, is the largest whales, tailspan?
>Thanks for answering.
>email address is curl@delanet.com
>Carl Marshall
Dear Carl,

To find the answer to your question, I went to a wonderful resource entitled
Whalebone Whales of the Western N. Atlantic Compared With Those Occurring in
European Waters by Frederick W. True. This book was was first published in
1904 and is based on measurements taken of whales killed in the major whale
fisheries of the 1800s. It is as good a resource for anatomical
measurements now as it was 100 years ago.

In general, the longer and sleeker a whale is, the smaller the flukes are
compared to total body length. Blue whales are the largest whales, but
their flukes are quite small compared to body length (only about 23-25% the
length of the body). Here are some measurements on 3 blue whales taken from

Total length: 65' 8", fluke width: 16'
Total length: 72' 2", fluke width: 16'10"
Total length: 61' 2", fluke width: 15' 8"

Humpback whales are much shorter and stockier than blue whales, and their
flukes are much wider (about 33-37% of total body length).

Here are some measurements of humpback whales from True.

Total length: 42'2", fluke width: 15'8"
Total length: 45', fluke width: 17'4"

I hope this answers your questions.

Best Wishes,
Nancy Stevick

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