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Minke Whale

December 17, 2022

Modern classification systems have split minke whales into two separate categories–The Common Minke Whale (also called the Northern Minke Whale) and the Antarctic Minke Whale (also called the Southern Minke Whale).

Regardless of the subspecies, all Minke Whales belong to the Baleen Whale family.

Minke Whale Facts:

  • Minke Whales are the second smallest of the Baleen Whales.
  • Males reach 27.4 feet long and weigh up to 7.7 tons. Females are a bit bigger, reaching a length of 29 feet and 9 tons.
  • Minke Whales are a black/gray/purple color with a white band on each flipper.
  • The average lifespan is anywhere from 30-50 years.
  • Minke Whales have a complex digestive system with four different compartments.
  • Minke Whales migrate seasonally to the poles during spring and to the tropics during the colder fall and winter months.
  • These whales eat kill, herring, sand eels, and sprat. However, they lack the predatory mechanism of some of the other, more aggressive whale species.  
  • Killer Whales are one of the Minke Whale’s most notorious predators. A 1975 study of 49 different Killer Whales found that 84% had eaten Minke Whales. More recent investigations of Minke Whale carcasses have shown that Killer Whales have an affinity for their lower jaw and tongues.
  • As of 2018, the IUCN listed the Common Minke Whale as Least Concern, while the Antarctic Minke While is considered Near Threatened.
  • Minke Whales have been the subject of whaling as early as the year 800. The practice was popular in China, Greenland, Korea, Japan, Norway, South Africa, Brazil, and Canada until the whaling moratorium began in 1986. However, many countries have resumed commercial Minke whaling.





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