Minke Whales

Minke Whales are found in all oceans in the world. The Minkes are the second smallest of the baleen whales, is one of the most abundant whales and also a principal target of today’s whaling industry.

Inhabiting both temperate and polar waters in the Northern and Southern hemispheres, the Minke Whale population is estimated to be over 761,000 in the Antarctic, 149,000 in North Atlantic waters, and about 25,000 in the Northwest Pacific ocean.

The Minke whale feeds primarily on fish, and krill. In the northern Pacific ocean, Pacific Saury accounts for 80% of this whale’s diet. Three species of euphausiids (a shrimp-like crustacean) and one species of copepod are also part of the Minke Whale diet.

Unlike other whales (Grey whales, Orca Whales), the Minke Whale is not known to coordinate feeding and travelling patterns with other Minke’s. Rather, the Minke Whale seems to conduct itself independently of other Minke’s, leaving scientists to wonder how mating is conducted.

Minke whales do not seem to produce intense or low frequency sounds like other, larger baleen whales. It is suspected by researchers that the Minke Whale does not have the capacity to communicate over great distances with one another.

While the Minke Whale population remains relatively high in the Pacific Northwest, they are not as observed as other whales such as Orca’s, Humpback’s, and Gray Whales.  Minke’s will often swim to the surface of the water for 3-5 blows, then descend for a 3-7 minute dive. In Iceland and Scotland, however, the Minke Whale is the main event for whale watching companies, as they are much more predictable there.

During the 1970’s Minke Whales were hunted for everything from cosmetics to mink food, and for human consumption.  They are currently hunted in the North Atlantic, the Northwest Pacific Ocean, and the Antarctic primarily for human consumption.

Minke Whale Facts

*Note: The following information applies only to the Northern Hemisphere Minke Whale. Southern Hemisphere Minke Whales are quite similar.

  • Scientific Name: Balaenoptera Acutorostrata
  • Common Name: Minke Whale
  • Maximum Adult Length: Female:  9.1 metres (30 feet), Male: 8.8 metres (29 feet)
  • Longevity: Up to about 60 years
  • Gestation Period: 10 Months
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