Balaenoptera acutorostrata - Minke Whale:

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Summary Information
Living Organisms / Animalia / Craniata / Mammalia / Cetacea / Balaenoteridae / Balaenoptera / Species
Alternative Names Lesser rorqual
Description Summary: Baleen whale reaching 8-9m/25-30ft. Bright white band across each flipper (D23).


  • About 10 tonnes (B142).


  • Males: about 8.0m; females about 8.5m. Northern hemisphere individuals average about 0.5m shorter than southern hemisphere individuals (B142).
  • 8-9m/25-30ft (D23).
  • Newborn: Length 2.6m (B142).

External Appearance:

  • Adult:
    • Slender body relative to length. Head slender, snout sharply pointed, with straight borders to rostrum.
    • Dorsal body dark grey to black, ventral body and ventral side of flippers white. May have light chevron on back of head occasionally. May have two pale grey areas, just above and behind flippers and just below/in front of dorsal fin.
    • Baleen plates: maximum 20cm long by 12cm wide, 230-360 on either side of the upper jaw, yellowish white, sometimes with black streaking, and with fringe of fine white bristles.
    • Throat grooves: 50-70, end behind flippers but in cranial to navel.
    • Dorsal fin: Nearly 2/3 of way along back towards tail flukes, relatively tall, usually distinct sickle shape.
    • Flippers: 1/8 of body length, relatively short and narrow. Distinctive white band.
    • Tail flukes: broad, with small median notch.


Range and Habitat All oceans (B51).

Around Britain: "Atlantic seaboard of Britain and Ireland, W and N Norway, the Faroes and Iceland, often close to the coast. Also occurs in northern and central North Sea regularly as far south as the Yorkshire coast, but virtually absent from the channel." (B142).


  • May be seen around Britain May to October, most commonly in August (B142).


Further Information Food:
  • Fish (Clupea, Gadus, Mallotus, Eleginus, Pollachius, Ammodytes spp.).
  • Euphausiids and pteropods.
  • (B142).

Feeding Behaviour:

  • Often feed in upwelling areas around headlands and small islands, particularly during the summer.
  • Engulf prey from behind with mouth open.
  • Also use side-feeding and lunge-feeding.
  • May use water surface to trap shoals of fish.
  • (B142)


  • Gestation 10 months.
  • Births mainly around December.
  • Lactation less than 6 months.
  • Calving interval 1-2 years or greater.
  • Sexual maturity about 7 years old.
  • (B142).

Activity: Cruising swimming speed 5-26km/hour (B142).

Social Behaviour:

  • Usually solitary or in pairs.
  • Sometimes larger groups when feeding.
  • (B142).

Conservation Status:

  • Commonest rorqual world-wide.
  • North Atlantic population estimated 50,000 to 100,000.
  • (B142).

Organisations (UK Contacts):

Electronic Library (further reading):

General Legislation:

Individual techniques:

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