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Minke Whale Fast Facts

  • Minke whales are a type of rorqual whale and are the smallest and most abundant of the baleen whales.
  • These whales grow to approximately 8-9 metres long and weigh between 5,400 to 6,800kg (females are larger than males).
  • There are an estimated 800,000 worldwide.
  • From the surface, Minke Whales have black to dark grey long, slender bodies and are white underneath (some also have white patches on their flippers). Their jaws are narrow and triangular.
  • Minkes are known to be fast and agile swimmers for they can swim up to 33 kilometres per hour, especially when their life is being threatened.
  • Minke whales can dive for up to 25 minutes, but they usually spend 10 to 12 minutes underwater before they return back to the surface to breathe.
minke whale

Habitat & Breeding

Known for their curiosity, minke whales are known to be the travellers of the sea. They travel through the world’s oceans, experiencing different climates, but preferring colder climates over warmer ones. Usually, minke whales are solitary creatures. They swim in groups or pods composed of about 2 to 4 whales. Their mating season takes place during the summer months and this is the time when they are commonly spotted interacting and mating with one another.

At 10 months, the gestation period for the minke whale is much shorter than most other whale species (some have gestation periods of seventeen months!). Minke whales reproduce every two to three years and nurse their calf for a maximum of ten months.

Whaling of Minke Whales

With a population of over 800,000, minke whales are the most abundant species of whale in the baleen whale suborder. Unfortunately, they are also the most hunted whales in the ocean.

Japan has an International Whaling Committee permit to kill about 850 Antarctic minkes for ‘scientific research’.

However, their conservation status is of the “least concern” given their large population. Their only natural predators are large sharks and packs of killer whales.

If you love whales as much as we do, come and see them in the wild on one of our whales cruises. Departing every day from mid-May to mid-November. Book your ticket today!

Whaling of Minke Whales