Balaenoptera acutorostrata

Balaenoptera acutorostrata

Balaenoptera acutorostrata  / Minke whale on location (6 m. long).

Supervised by Henrik Flintegård. 

The minke whale is a species of the baleen whales. All baleen whales have a filter-feeding system of baleens inside their mouths instead of teeth. They have between 240 and 360 baleen plates on each side of their mouths. Baleen whales are also recognized by fused neck vertebrates, so they can’t turnt their head, and bu having two blowholes.

Male minke whales measure an average of 6.9 m and females 8 m in length, respectively. They can weigh up to 10 tons. Even though those are impressive numbers, minke whales are the second-smallest species of baleen whale, only the pygmy right whale is smaller.

The body is usually black or dark-gray above and white underneath. The common minke whale here is recognizable by a wide white band on each flipper. Most of the length of the back, including dorsal fin and blowholes, appears at once when the whale surfaces to breathe. The whale breathes three to five times at short intervals before 'deep-diving' for two to 20 minutes. Deep dives are preceded by a pronounced arching of the back.

Minke whales typically live for 30–50 years; in some cases they may live for up to 60 years. Like cows, minke whales have a digestive system composed of four compartments with a high density of anaerobic bacteria throughout. The presence of the bacteria suggests minke whales rely on microbial digestion to extract nutrients provided by their food.

Minke whales undertake seasonal migration routes to the poles during spring and towards the tropics during fall and winter. A long-term photo identification study on the British Columbian and Washington coasts showed that some individuals travel as far as 424 km north in the spring, and 398 km south to warmer waters in the autumn. Many specifics about migration in this species still remain unclear. The maximum swimming speed of minkes has been estimated at 38 km/h.

Photo: Mads Havemann