To see photographs of the Minke Whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)
Whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)
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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.