Minke Whale – Genus Balaenoptera
The Minke whale is the second smallest of the baleen category. They aren’t likely to be more than 35 feet long or to weigh more than 5.5 tons. They feature two blowholes and they are black and white in color. Other characteristics include two flippers that are very long, a dorsal fin that is small, and ridges around the back close to the tail.
You won’t find the Minke Whale to be very social. Many of them tend to live alone. Others have a partner or a group of three. It is very rare except during migration that you will see more than that together. We know a great deal about them due to the high numbers. They tend to attract very large crowds of waters. In some locations there are cruise ships that take people out to see them.
The Minke Whales in these areas have become very familiar with the ships. They will circle close around them which give the passengers on board a chance to witness these amazing creatures up close in their natural environment. They are also believed to be very curious so they may even be watching the people in return.
The Minke Whale features as many as 70 grooves in the throat area. This helps them with the process of scooping up water and materials from the water. They can then filter out what isn’t food for them. Their diet primarily consists of krill, small fish, herring, and cod. They move along about 6 miles per hour when they are feeding and about 24 miles per hour when they aren’t.
The Minke Whale has been spotted in all the oceans but they prefer temperate and boreal waters. They do tend to like the areas surrounding them though and it isn’t uncommon to find them where there are thick layers of ice. They also found in the tropical and subtropical regions.
They mature much earlier than other whales at about three years. The baby is born 10 months after conception takes place. These calves are approximately 9 feet long and can weigh up to 1,000 pounds.
Due to the small size, whaling used to not be a problem for the Minke Whale. Hunters like the trophy size whales and this isn’t one of them. However, in the past several decades the number of them being killed due to hunting has reaches new heights. It is believed that this is a direct cause of so many other types of whales no longer being legal to hunt. Therefore they have to kill many more of them to get the same quantity of meat as they would with larger ones.
There are more Minke Whales than any other in the class of baleen. There are approximately 800,000 of them out there. However, they problem is that they only have a life expectancy of 50 years. This is drastically less than most other species of whales in the wild. There isn’t much done in the way of conservation for them at this point in time. There are simply too many other types of whales that are at risk for such efforts to be focused upon.
A close eye is watched over them though to make sure they don’t end up dropping dramatically in numbers. Early intervention can take place through conservation efforts if necessary. One thing we have learned through whale conservation efforts is that it can take a long time to get the numbers back up if we allow them to get too low.