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Minke Whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)

Minke Whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)

All text on this page is copyright protected: © 2014 Kelvin Aitken.
All rights reserved. Students may use this information for personal research only. Not for commercial use.

Order: Cetacea
Family: Balaenopteridae
Genus: Balaenoptera
Species: acutorostrata
Taxonomic name: Balaenoptera acutorostrata
Other Common Names: Northern Minke Whale, Southern Minke Whale, Little Piked Whale, Common Minke Whale, Antarctic Minke Whale, North Atlantic Minke Whale, North Pacific Minke Whale, Dwarf Minke Whale.

Minke Whales belong to the Balaenopteridae or Rorqual family of whales.

Minke Whales are the smallest of the Rorqual whales with females growing to 11 meters and males to 10 meters. Calves are born at 2.4 -2.5 meters and reach maturity when around 7 meters long.

Minke Whales are found in polar to tropical waters in all oceans, making them not only the most widely distributed whale but also the most numerous. Minkes can be found close to shore, even in estuaries, or in the open ocean. When in the vicinity of boats they often approach very closely displaying obvious curiosity. When divers are in the water they make constant close passes and are very playful making these whales almost impossible to harass. The Minke Whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) will use natural waves or boat wake to surf, will spyhop and, on occasion, breach either dolphin-like with a clean head first re-entry or with a resounding splash like their Humpback Whale cousins. They are the only whale species openly hunted for commercial purposes; ostensibly for scientific research.

Minkes are easily identified by their small size, prominent white band on the pectoral fins (though this may be reduced or absent in some individuals), sharply pointed snout and streamlined shape. There may be a pale chevron marking on the back behind the head and usually a large pale patch above and behind the pectoral fins and, to a lesser extent, on the lower flanks below the dorsal fin. The snout, when viewed from above is sharply pointed with a strong ridge running from the twin blowholes to the tip of the snout. The dorsal fin is sharply pointed and situated on the rear third of the body. This fin is often seen as the whale dives but the flukes are rarely, if ever, raised. When the whale surfaces to breath it pushes up the tip of the snout before delivering an inconspicuous blow.

These small Rorquals feed on pelagic crustaceans such as shrimp and krill as well as schools of small fish. They are usually seen in groups of three to six though they may also be alone or, when food is concentrated into one area, in aggregations of 100 or more.

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