• Atlantic Naturalist

|1-5-2019 am| First Sei whales

Updated: Sep 30, 2019

It was our first record of Sei Whales (Balaenoptera borealis) this year, the third largest rorqual after the Blue and the Fin Whale, reaching 18 meters long in the Northern Hemisphere. In Portuguese "Baleia Sardinheira" for their preference for small pelagic fish such as sardines.


They can be found in open ocean waters in temperate and sub-polar regions. Despite being hunted in the 60's and 70's, they are the most poorly understood of all baleen whales, maybe due to their offshore distribution.

Sei Whale (Balaenoptera borealis) in the Azores

Sei Whales migrate from wintertime breeding grounds in lower latitudes around North Africa and feeding grounds in higher latitudes during summertime up to the Labrador sea and Greenland. They can be observed in the Azores Archipelago from April to September on their annual migration.

Shape of a dorsal fin of a Sei Whale (Balaenoptera borealis)

They can be easily confused with Bryde Whales (Balaenoptera edeni). We use the shape of the dorsal fin, more slender and erect as in the figure above, although sometimes this can be tricky. Also the single ridge on the rostrum is a more difficult but useful feature to differentiate with the three parallel ridges on Brydes Whale's.


Sei Whale (Balaenoptera borealis) in the Azores

A young Naturalist fascinated by the Portuguese man-o-war had a specimen upclose and assisted our visual transects during the expedition. A big thank you for your help!


Young Naturalist and a Portuguese man-o-war ( Jovem Naturalista e uma Caravela Portuguesa no mar dos Açores! )

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