Balaenoptera acutorostrata

Minke whales are the smallest and most abundant of the rorquals (baleen, or filter feeding whales, with throat pleats). They are divided into two distinct species: common minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) and Antarctic minke whales (Balaenoptera bonaerensis). Minke whales in the northern hemisphere can be distinguished by a white band which is present on both pectoral fins. In the Azores, common minke whales are mostly encountered alone or in small groups. On the surface they can travel relatively fast (sometimes appearing more like dolphins than whals) and when they submerge they stay under for up to 20 minutes.  Sometimes they can be seen breaching and they may approach boats and swimmers (only in Australia you are able to swim with minke whales). Like the other baleen whale species, minke whales are observed in the Azores mainly during the spring months, although they are not encountered as frequently.  They can be difficult to detect on the surface because of their small body size and low blow which is difficult to see.

Video Footage

Species Details


Male: 9.8 m
Female: 10.7 m
Calf: 2-2.8 m


Female: 9,200 kg

Species Specs

Global population: c.209,800 (population trend unknown)
Status: Least concern
Diet: Krill, small schooling fish
Baleen: 230-360 pairs
Longevity: 30 years
Breeding age: Unknown
Gestation: Unknown
Nursing: Unknown

In other languages

Portuguese: Baleia-anã
Spanish: Ballena minke
French: Baleine de minke
Italian: Ballenottera minore
German: Gewöhnlicher Zwergwal
Dutch: Dwerg vinvis
Swedish: Vikval
Norwegian: Vågehval
Danish: Vågehval
Finnish: Lahtivalas
Polish: Pletwal karlowaty
Russian: Karlikovyi polosatik


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