Minke Whale

Marine Creature:  Northern Minke Whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)

 Kindly compiled by Planet Whale

General Description

The most abundant of the baleen whales (whales with baleen rather than teeth); Common Minke Whales are usually solitary, sometimes seen in pairs or small groups and rarely in larger aggregations. They can be very elusive and difficult to follow when feeding actively, but are sometimes quite inquisitive, occasionally spyhopping or approaching passing boats. Breaching is regularly observed, particularly during periods of rough weather. Common Minke Whales are capable of short bursts of high speed. During fast travel they create a large rooster tail splash, which is easily observed at a distance.


The Northern Minke whale is distributed in all oceans of the northern hemisphere and is the most abundant of the baleen whales. They occur throughout the northern hemisphere, but are generally more common in cooler waters than in the tropics. They favor nearshore waters over the continental shelf and frequently enter bays and estuaries, though are sometimes encountered in offshore pelagic waters.

Interesting Facts

A Minke whale is easily recognised once you see its pectoral fins, as most Minke whales have a distinctive white band around each fin.
In 2000, the Antarctic Minke whale was recognised as a separate species.

  • Lifespan: Up to around 50 years
  • Size: Females can reach larger sizes than the males, as is the case with all baleen whales, up to 33m in length and weighing up to 180 tons. This is about the length of a basketball court!
  • Food: Their varied diet includes herring, capelin, cod, pollock, salmon, mackerel and sand eel, along with some squid species, copepods and krill.

Dwarf-minke-whaleFeeding & Hunting

Minke whales often seek out their prey in areas where strong currents flow. They are gulp feeders, mostly near the surface so they’ll lunge into a school of prey, engulfing it while swimming.


Norway, Iceland, Greenland and Japan hunt Minke whales.

Conservation Status & International Protection

IUCN “least concern”.


Common-minke-whale-dorsal-profileBest places in the world to see these creatures:

Scotland, Iceland, Ireland and there’s a unique ethical opportunity to swim with these magnificent animals in North Queensland, Australia.

More information can be found at www.planetwhale.com plus ethical reviews and rating system for whale watching trips to see Minke Whales


Organisation Profile:  Planet Whale


Description/Background of work

At the heart of Planet Whale is a belief that an encounter with a wild whale or dolphin reconnects us with the natural world in an amazing and powerful way. For one humbling moment we can be moved to tears or celebrating wildly as we stare through the thin veil of water that separates us from these magnificent animals.

Planet Whale understands that we all need such encounters to reawaken our sense of responsibility to the natural world; energising ourselves to act for the greater good. That is our first step – only when we have been inspired will we feel compelled to act. For this reason we promote responsible whale watching and have the largest online searchable database of whale and dolphin watch operators in the world – the public can review trips they’ve been on with regard to their sustainability, educational value and impact on the marine environment, amongst other things.

It is this global community that will change the way we view whales and dolphins forever. By harnessing the passion and ideas of individuals, we will achieve more to protect and defend our oceans than ever before.

Together we will: 

  • Give the people control so they can use it to help whales and dolphins.
  • Inspire change through a new global partnership.
  • Make whale watching more sustainable – and successful – than ever before!
  • Reach out to the world with colossal festivals for whales and dolphins.
  • Create innovative campaigns that harness the power of the web’s global community.



Volunteer/Paid Work Opportunities

We are always looking for passionate and hard-working volunteers to help achieve our Planet Whale mission. In particular we welcome applications for the upcoming Whalefest. You don’t need to be a whale expert but a lot of enthusiasm for marine conservation and a fun attitude are essential. We’re based in Brighton and Hove (UK) but our volunteer network stretches across the globe, so feel free to get in touch wherever you are! Contact us at info@planetwhale.com.


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