Minke Whale

Though the smallest of the fin whales, these migrating mammals can let out a cry as loud as a plane taking off

Minke Whale

Name: (Common) Minke Whale a.k.a. Lesser Rorqual, Northern Minke Whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata).
Antarctic Minke Whale a.k.a. Southern Minke Whale (Balaenoptera bonaerensis)

Length: 6.5 – 7.5 metres

Weight: 10 tons

Location: Worldwide from sub-Arctic waters in north to sub-Antarctic waters in the south

Conservation status: Least Concern

Diet: Small fish, krill

Appearance: Black or dark grey, lighter on belly. Northern variety has white bands on flippers

How do Minke Whales forage?

Like other examples of baleen whales, Minke Whales while swim through schools of fish or areas rich in krill and gulp in water, then push the water back out through their baleen in order to trap the fish and krill inside. Their dives usually last in the range of up to 20 minutes. In order to gather fish Minke Whales will swim in circles around a school, decreasing the diameter of the circle until they are close enough to lunge into the balled up school of fish.

Are Minke Whales social?

Minke Whales are fairly solitary, usually found alone. When Minkes are seen near other Minkes they do not display cooperative hunting habits like some other forms of whales.

Minke whale swimming close to Zodiacs in Antarctica

How fast can Minke Whales swim?

The Minke’s max speed is around 40 km per hour. Their normal cruising speed can be anywhere from 5 km per hour to 25 km per hour.

What are Minke Whale mating rituals like?

Both male and female Minke Whales come to sexual maturity around 6 years of age. The mating season depends on the sub-category of the Minke, related to where in the world they’re located. The pregnancy lasts 10 months when a single calf is born, with a length of around 2.5 metres and weighs about 450 kg. When the calves are weaned about 6 months later they’ll have grown to almost double that length.

How long do Minke Whales live?

Minke Whales live around 40 years on average, though examples have been found living up to 60 years.

A minke whale in Antarctica

How many Minke Whales are there today?

Worldwide estimates for Minkes place their population at approximately 800,000, the highest number for baleen whales.

Do Minke Whales have any predators?

The only natural predators for Minkes are Killer Whales packs which hunt the solo Minkes in chases that can last an hour.

6 Magnificent Minke Whale Facts

  • Minke Whales are the smallest form of baleen whale.
  • Minke Whales’ vocalizations can be as loud as jet planes taking off (up to 152 decibels).
  • Minke Whales have earned the name “Stinky Minkes” because of the less-than-appealing smell of their spouting.
  • Minkes migrate to warmer waters during the colder winter months. 
  • The pleats on a Minke Whale’s (and similar whales’) throats allows the throats to expand to take in large amounts of water when they’re feeding
  • Minke Whales are often seen feeding in areas teeming with sea birds, and scientists believe they may be using the location of the birds as an indication of where to find food.

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