Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Living Sanctuary section includes Marine Life, Habitats, Ocean Environment, History and Culture
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Living Sanctuary section includes Marine Life, Habitats, Ocean Environment, History and Culture
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Living Sanctuary section includes Marine Life, Habitats, Ocean Environment, History and Culture

Minke Whale

Minke Whale
(Balaenoptera acutorostrata)

Habitat/Range
Among the most widely distributed of all baleen whales, they occur in the North Atlantic and North Pacific from tropical to polar waters, migrating to warmer areas in winter and returning to polar feeding grounds in the summer.

Eats
Plankton, krill, sardines, anchovies, cod, herring and capelin

Feeds
The Minke whale's jaws have about 300 pairs of short, smooth baleen plates. The largest plates are about less than 12 inches long and 5 inches wide. The fine textured baleen plates are fringed with white bristles.

Moves
Minke whales can dive for up to 25 minutes, but usually make shorter dives lasting about 10 minutes. Just before diving, Minke whales arch their back to a great degree, but the flukes do not rise out of the water.

Behavior
Minke whales usually travel singly or in small groups, although larger groups have been observed in feeding areas. Minke populations are often segregated by sex, age or reproductive condition. In Puget Sound individual Minkes have adjoining ranges, which may indicate territoriality, a trait not displayed by other baleen whales. Known for their curiosity, Minke whales often approach boats.

Reproduction
Calving occurs in tropical water in the winter after a gestation period of about 10 months. Calves are about eight feet long at birth. The newborns nurse for five months; and are most likely weaned before the females migrate to summer feeding grounds.

Threats
Predation by killer whales, hunting by Japanese and Norwegian whaling fleets

Status
Minke whales are thought to be abundant in most areas, though there is a lack of reliable information on their population.



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