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The Minke Whale

Where Do Minke Whales Live?



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Itty Bitty Minke

The Minke whale is the smallest of the rorquals (whales with throat pleats.) Even though it is the smallest, Minkes can get up to 35 feet long but are usually smaller. These whales are very elusive, yet are known to approach boats, surprising passengers. The Sea Explorer has had numerous "friendly" Minke experiences, with the whale coming right up to the boat to investigate. Usually, minkes are difficult to watch because they are fast and disappear quickly after a few breaths.

Minkes have very distinctive coloration. They are black or dark gray with whitish whorls which extend up from the belly. They also frequently have a white band=2 0on their pectoral fins. They have a very pointed snout with a pronounced splash-guard in front of their blowholes. Their dorsal fins are large for their size and quite curved.

Human Impact

Minkes are among the last whales to be hunted. In the 1980s, the Minke whale became the most heavily hunted baleen whale, after the other whale populations were over-exploited. In 1994, after intense pressure from Japan, Norway, and Denmark, the International Whaling Commission gave permission for this whale to be hunted for scientific purposes. The whales are hunted under a scientific permit, but are consumed.

Wurtz, M. and Repetto, N. 2003. Dolphins and Whales. White Star S.r.I. Vercelli, Italy Eder, T. and Sheldon, I. 2002. Whales and Other Marine Mammals of California and Baja. Lone Pine Publishing, Canada.

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Minke Whale Facts

Order: Cetacea
Suborder: Mysticeti (Baleen)
Family: Balaenopteridae
Species: Balaenoptera acutorostrata/bonaerensis
Weight: Up to 15 tons, average 10 tons
Length: Up to 35 feet, average 27 feet
Diet: Krill and schooling fish
Range: All of the world’s oceans
Status: Unknown, thought to be numerous