Length

up to 18 – 35 ft 

Weight

ranging from 12,000 – 20,000 pounds

Population

over 180,000 (common minke whale populations) and about 515,000 (Antarctic minke whale population)

Distribution

The minke whale are diverse in that they can occur in polar, temperate, and tropical waters in most areas across the world. The distribution of minke whales differs between age, sex, and reproductive status.

Description

The minke whale is part of the baleen family. There are two recognized species, being the common minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) and the Antarctic minke whale (Balaenoptera bonaerensis). The minke whale is the smallest rorqual, with females being known as slightly larger than the males. They have been found to differ in sizes depending on their geographical location. They have dark grey coloring, white undersides, and a light chevron found behind their heads. Minke whales are very vocal, making clicking noises, grunts, and thumps.

Other distinguishing characteristics include their tendency to surface the water snout first with bushy blows of about 10 ft high, diving without raising their flukes out of the water, as well as “rooster tailing” which involves approaching the surface quickly which results in a spray. Lucky for whale watchers, minke whales love to breach and poke their heads above sea (spyhop). The minke whale diet consists of crustaceans, plankton, and small schooling fish.