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ALL ABOUT WHALES!
What is a Whale? Whale Information Sheets Anatomy and Behavior Extreme Whales Whale Myths Whale Evolution Whale Classification Whale Glossary Whale Activities Whale Index

MINKE WHALE
Balaenoptera acutorostrata
Minke Whale Print-Out


GENERAL DESCRIPTION
The minke whale is the smallest baleen whale with 50-70 throat grooves. It is a rorqual whale (baleen whale with throat grooves). They are the most abundant baleen whale. Minke whales have a characteristic white band on each flipper, contrasting with its very dark gray top color. They have 2 blowholes, like all baleen whales.

Minke Whale

SIZE
Minke whales grow to be about 25-30 feet (7.8-9 m) long, weighing about 6-7.5 tons (5.4-6.8 tonnes).. Females are about 2 feet (0.6 m) longer than males, as with all baleen whales. The largest minke whale was about 35 feet (10.5 m) long weighing 9.5 tons (8.6 tonnes).. Minke whales have a snout that is distinctively triangular, narrow, and pointed (hence its nicknames "sharp-headed finner" and "little piked whale").

SKIN, SHAPE AND FINS
The minke whale's skin is very dark gray above and lighter below, sometimes with pale trapezoidal stripes behind the flippers on the top. Minke whales have a characteristic white band on each flipper (this is absent on the southern minke whales).

Minke whales are stocky, having a layer of blubber several inches thick. They have 50-70 throat grooves, running from the chin to the mid-section. The minke whale has two long flippers (up to 1/8 of the body size), a small dorsal fin, and a series of small ridges along the its back near the flukes (tail).

DIET AND BALEEN
Minke whales (like all baleen whales) are seasonal feeders and carnivores. They sieve through the ocean water with their baleen. They filters out small polar plankton, krill, and small fish, even chasing schools of sardines, anchovies, cod, herring, and capelin. They have the same diet as blue whales.

The baleen plates in the minke whale's jaws have about 300 pairs of short, smooth baleen plates. The largest plates are about less than 12 inches (30 cm) long and 5 inches (13 cm) wide. The fine textured baleen bristles are fringed and are creamy-white with pure white bristles..

SOCIAL GROUPS
Minke whales either travel singly or congregated in small pods of about 2-3 whales.

DIVING
Minke whales can dive for up to 20-25 minutes, but usually make shorter dives, lasting about 10-12 minutes. Just before diving, minke whales arch their back to a great degree, but the flukes do not rise out of the water.

SPOUTING-BREATHING
Minke whales breathe air at the surface of the water through 2 blowholes located near the top of the head. At rest, minke whales spout (breathe) about 5-6 times per minute. The spout of the minke whale is a very low, almost inconspicuous stream that rises up to 6.5 feet (2 m) above the water. Minke whales start to exhaling before they reach the surface; this minimizes the blow.

SPEED
Minke whales normally swim 3-16 mph (4.8-25 kph), but can go up to 18-21 mph (29-34 kph) in bursts when in danger. Feeding speeds are slower, about 1-6 mph (1.6-9.8 kph).

VOCALIZATION
Minke whales makes very loud sounds, up to 152 decibels (as loud as a jet taking off). They make series (trains) of grunts, thuds, and raspy sounds, usually in the 100-200 Hertz range. These sounds may be used in communication with other minke whales and in echolocation.

HABITAT AND RANGE
Minke whales live at the surface of the ocean in all but polar seas.


REPRODUCTION
Minke whale breeding occurs mostly in the late winter to early spring while near the surface and in warm waters. The gestation period is about 10 months and the calf is born near the surface of the warm, shallow waters. The newborn instinctively swims to the surface within 10 seconds for its first breath; it is helped by its mother, using her flippers. Within 30 minutes of its birth the baby whale can swim. The newborn calf is about 9 feet (2.8 m) long and weighs about 1,000 pounds (454 kg). The baby is nurtured with its mother's milk. The mother and calf may stay together for a year or longer. Minke whales reach puberty at 2 years of age.

LIFE SPAN
Minke whales have a life expectancy of over 20 years.

POPULATION COUNT
Minke whales are the most abundant baleen whale. It is estimated that there are about almost 800,000 minke whales world-wide.

CLASSIFICATION
Minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) are baleen whales (Suborder Mysticeti). They are one of 76 cetacean species, and are marine mammals.

Kingdom Animalia (animals)
Phylum Chordata (vertebrates)
Class Mammalia (mammals)
Order Cetacea (whales and dolphins)
Suborder Mysticeti (baleen whales)
Family Balaenopteridae
Genus Balaenoptera
Species acutorostrata


MINKE WHALE ACTIVITIES
A print-out about minke whales.

Minke Whale Connect-the-Dots

A first grade addition activity. Solve the 1-digit addition problems, then do letter substitutions to answer a whale question.

A Minke whale word hunt activity - For second and third graders.

MINKE WHALE LINKS
The Whale-watching web




Information Sheets About Whales
(and other cetaceans)

Just click on a cetacean's name to go to that information sheet.

BELUGA WHALE

BLUE WHALE

BOTTLENOSE DOLPHIN

BOWHEAD WHALE

GRAY WHALE

HUMPBACK WHALE

KILLER WHALE

MINKE WHALE

NARWHAL

ORCA

RIGHT WHALES

SPERM WHALE




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