Minke Whale

Balaenoptera acutorostrata

The minke whale is the smallest of the baleen whales, up to 10 metres long, weighing as much as 7 tons.

  • They are black/gray/purple colour on top, and white underneath. 
  • Common minke whales (Northern Hemisphere variety) have a white band on each flipper.  
  • Most of the length of the back, including dorsal fin and blowholes, appears at once when the whale surfaces to breathe.
  • Unlike humpback whales, they don’t raise their fluke out of the water to dive, and, because they can stay underwater for up to 20 minutes, can be frustrating to watch!

Range

There are two populations of Minke whale, one in the northern, one in the southern hemisphere. They each migrate to the poles in spring and the tropics in autumn and winter.

Food

Minke whales in the northern hemisphere eat krill, sand eels, herring, capelin and sprat, amongst other small fish.

Behaviour

They breathe 3-5 times in quick succession before diving for between two and twenty minutes. They mostly breed in the summer months, and calves stay with their mothers for five-ten months.

Threats

Killer whales regularly hunt and kill minke whales. Other threats include commercial whaling, climate change, water toxicity, food scarcity, and habitat degradation.

Level of Concern

Minke Whales are classified as Of Least Concern, with an estimated population of over 500,000 worldwide.