Minke whale

Species profile

Name: minke whales are a type of baleen whale. There are two distinct species: the common (or northern) minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) and the Antarctic (or southern) minke whale (Balaenoptera bonaerensis).

Appearance: they are a black, grey, or purple colour on top and white underneath. Common minke whales can be distinguished by a white band on their flippers.

Size: minke whales are the second smallest species of baleen whale – only the pygmy right whale is smaller. The grow up to 9 to 11 metres long and typically weigh around 4 or 5 tonnes.

Diet: in the North Atlantic they eat krill, herring, capelin, and sand eels. In the North Pacific they eat anchovies and krill. While in the Antarctic they eat species such as krill, silverfish, jonasfish, and lanternfish.

Did you know: minke whales have digestive systems that are made up of four separate compartments, each with large numbers of anaerobic bacteria. The presence of this bacteria suggests they rely on microbial digestion to extract nutrients from their food. This also means that they give off a distinctive smell – giving them the nickname ‘stinky minkes’!

Location: they can be found in the North Atlantic, North Pacific, and Antarctic oceans. Both types of minke whale undertake migrations to the poles each year.

Where to see minke whales

According to reports submitted to WildSide, you can see minke whales in the following places:

Place Chance to see User rating No. reports
West Cork
very high
very good
Moray Firth
very low

Photo credit: Len2040 under a Creative Commons license from Flickr

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