Whale is the second smallest of the baleen whales after the
pygmy right whale –females measure about 7.3 to 8.8 meters and
males are 6.7 to 8.4 meters long (Wilson and Ruff 1999). The
Minke whale is also one of the most numerous species of
whales. It feeds on
krill and small fish that it catches by lunging or filter
feeding. Minkes are usually seen alone and they can be
secretive. They take one or two breaths at the surface without
revealing much of spout and disappear underwater for several
Most, but not
all cetacean taxonomists recognize two subspecies of Minke
whale (reviewed by Horwood et al. 1989) - the North Pacific
Minke whale (B. a. scammoni = B. a. davidsoni)
and the North Atlantic Minke whale B. a. acutorostrata.
Some scientists think there is a third subspecies of Minke
whale known colloquially as the
dwarf Minke whale found off Australia, South Africa, South
Ameica and the South Pacific Islands. The Antarctic Minke
Whale (B. bonaerensis) found in the southern hemisphere
has recently been given full species status (Reeves et al.
were too small, too fast, and carcasses sank when harpooned so
the commercial whaling industry pursued large whales a century
ago. However, its behaviour of entering bays and inlets
resulted in Minke whales being hunted by native people over
long periods. Bones found in archeological digs provide
evidence for a harvest in the past and stir controversy about
rights to a modern hunt (IUCN).
Killer whales have long been known to prey on the Minke
whale but rarely do large numbers of people witness a kill. In
October 2002, four transient killer whales trapped and killed
a Minke whale in Ganges Harbour, Saltspring Island, British
Columbia while about 200 people from the town of Ganges
watched from land meters away.
Baker, C.S., G. M. Lento, F. Cipriano and S. R. Palumbi. 2000.
Predicted decline of protected whales based on molecular
genetic monitoring of Japanese and Korean markets. Proceedings
of the Royal Society of London B 267: 1–9.
Boyd, I. L.,
C. Lockyer and H. D. Marsh. 1989. Reproduction in marine
mammals. Pp. 218-286 in J. E. Reynolds III and S. A. Rommel.
Biology of marine mammals. Smithsonian Institution Press,
Dalebout, M.L., G.M. Lento, F. Cipriano, N. Funahashi and C.S.
Baker. 2002. How many protected minke whales are sold in Japan
and Korea? A census of microsatellite DNA profiling. Animal
Conservation 5: 143–152.
Goto, M. and L. A. Pastene. 1997. Population structure of the
western North Pacific minke whale based on an RFLP analysis of
the mtDNA control region. Report of the International Whaling
Commission 47: 531–537.
Hoelze, A. R.
E., M. Dorsey and S. J. Stern. 1989. The foraging
specializations of individual minke whales. Animal Behaviour
Horwood, J. W., L. M. Leunissen and V. Insler. 1989.
and exploitation of the Minke Whale. CRC Press.
V. and V. L. Zinchenko. 1982. Occurrence of pathological
development of minke embryos of the southern hemisphere.
Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission,
Lynas, E. M.
and J. P. Sylvetre. 1988. Feeding techniques and foraging
strategies of minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)
in the St. Lawrence River estuary. Aquatic Mmammals 14:21-32.
R., B. S. Stewart, P. J. Clapham and J. A. Powell. 2002. Guide
to marine mammals of the world. Alfred A. Knopf, New York.
Wilson, D. E.
and S. Ruff 1999. The Smithsonian book of North American
mammals. University of British Columbia Press, Vancouver, BC