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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Minke Whale Balaenoptera acutorostrata

This is the smallest of the rorquals—a name given to baleen whales that have expandable, pleated throats. It is also the most numerous, with a global population as high as 1 million. Like its much larger relative, the blue whale, it has a torpedo-shaped body with a single dorsal fin set far back, toward its tail. It is gray or brown above, with a paler underside, and short, pointed flippers that may have a white band.

Minke whales live alone or in small groups. They are naturally inquisitive and regularly approach boats. They eat small fish and planktonic animals and, like other rorquals, they feed mainly in cold-water regions, eating much less during the breeding season, when they migrate toward the tropics. The minke is the only rorqual that is still hunted commercially, despite a moratorium observed by most member countries of the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

Minke Whalezoom image
  • Order Cetacea
  • Length 23–33 ft (7–10 m)
  • Weight 5–11 tons (5–10 metric tons)
  • Habitat Open ocean and coastal waters
  • Distribution Worldwide, except extreme north and south
Minke Whale habitat mapzoom image