Minke Whale
Balaenoptera acutorostrata

Other Names: Pikehead, Little Piked Whale, Pike Whale, Little Finner, Sharp-headed Finner, Lesser Finback, Lesser Rorqual

Habitat: Inshore and offshore

Status: Common

Population: c.500,000-1 million

Threats: Hunting/whaling, entanglement in fishing nets, and pollution

Group Size: 1, occasionally up to 100 or more at good feeding areas

Fin Position: Far behind center

Newborns: 8'-9'"(2.4m-2.8m), c.770 lb. (350 kg)

Adults: 23'-33' (7m-10m), 5-10 tons

Diet: Krill or other crustaceans and fish

Baleen: 230-360 baleen plates on each side


Dorsal fin:

- falcate dorsal fin (highly variable)
- dorsal fin tallest of all baleen whales, relative to body size


- pale gray, bluish gray, or white underside (usually with dark margin)
- slightly concave trailing edges
- pointed tips


- pointed tips
- slender, relatively short flippers, one-eighth of body length
- white band (variable)
- Flippers (upper side):
- flippers may be dark, with no white band
- broad white band on flippers of some animals
- narrow white band on some flippers


- splashguard in front of blowholes
- creamy yellow or creamy white baleen with fine white bristles
- flat rostrum
- baleen may be visible at close range, especially when animal is feeding
- lower jaw extends beyond upper jaw
- throat grooves

Head (from above):

- 2 distinct blowholes
- single, prominent ridge from blowholes to end of snout
- narrow, pointed snout
- triangular head

Other characteristics:

- flattened rostrum
- pale chevron behind head (variable)
- black, dark gray, or brown upper side
- fairly streamlined body
- white, pale gray, or pale brown underside
- 50-70 throat grooves, usually end just behind flippers
- throat grooves may have pinkish tint when distended
- sharply pointed snout


- normally difficult to approach, but some individuals are quite inquisitive and will investigate boats
- may suddenly appear along side without warning
- unlikely to bow-ride but may swim next to a boat for a considerable distance
- moves unpredictably underwater, and it may vanish without trace
- relatively fast swimmer
- sometimes spyhops and breaches
- typical dive sequence is 5 to 8 blows at intervals of less than a minute, followed by long dive, usually lasting 3 to 8 minutes; can stay underwater for as long as 20 minutes
- normally takes only 1 to 2 breaths between dives when traveling
- can sometimes be seen feeding near the surface beneath a flock of feeding seabirds


- virtually worldwide in tropical, temperate, and polar waters of both hemispheres
- three geographically isolated populations are recognized: in the North Pacific, North Atlantic, and southern hemisphere
- usually more concentrated in higher latitudes during summer and lower latitudes during winter, but migrations vary from year to year
- some populations appear to be resident year-round, and recent evidence suggests that individuals may have exclusive home ranges in some areas
- often enters estuaries, bays, and inlets, and during summer, may feed around headlands and small islands
- sometimes gets trapped inside small pockets of open water within pack ice

TMMSN Galveston

TMMSN Corpus Christi

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This page was created by:Candice Orca Mottet