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Minke Whale
(balaenoptera acutorostrata)

The name of this whale is pronounced "Minky". This is the smaller of the large baleen whales that we have seen. The Minke whale ranges in size from 5 to 28 feet in length with some individuals in Antarctica reaching more than 30 feet. Minke whales are dark on top and white below with a small curved dorsal fin that quickly cuts through the water. Minke's have small thin flippers with the first 2/3 being bright white and the outer tip being black. It is not known why they have these white patches but it may help minke whales recognize other minke whales. Minke whales do not often show a visible spout and don't show their tails when they dive. But boaters do sometimes encounter a "curious minke" that may swim right up to a boat and then alongside it. We once encountered a pair of minke whales that swam all around and under the boat and occasionally turned over showing us their bellies for an hour.

On our trips we have found minke's are most often seen by themselves but we have seen pairs traveling together and mothers with young. Minkes will take more fish than other large whales and will often venture up into bays in search small cod, pollack, and mackerel. Thus minkes are regularly seen from shore, small boats, and kayaks. Because they come close to shore they will get caught in lobster lines and fish weirs. Sometimes they get rescued and sometimes they don't.

They are a very abundant whale all around the world with an estimate of 800,000 in Antarctica. Today a number of hundred are killed by both Norway and Japan. The reason whaling continues is that some Japanese have a fondness for the taste of whale meat. The truly sad part is the way the whales are killed. After being shot with an explosive harpoon it sometimes takes 15 to 20 minutes for them to die. Certainly no human would like to die in such an awful way.



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