The Whales

minke whale

The sleek minke (pronounced mink-ey) whale is a fast swimmer, reaching speeds of 16-21 mph (24-32 km/hr).  Their range extended to all the oceans from sub tropical to polar waters. 

Minke are rare only in the tropics, whereas in the Antarctic they will actually inhabit the pack ice.  One of the smaller whales, adults average 27-33 feet (8.2-10.2 meters) long, and weigh ‘only’ about 10 tons.

A Norwegian sailor named Minke, mistook a small whale for a giant blue whale, and as a jest his fellow sailors began calling this whale a “Minke”. 

Minke Whale 

17" Long x 5" High
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They tend to be solitary in the open ocean but gather in large numbers in the polar region were food is concentrated.  They feed mostly on krill, though in the northern hemisphere they will also feed on small schooling fish.  The curious minke are known to be preyed upon by killer whales, especially in the southern hemisphere, where the Antarctic minkes are somewhat larger and lack the distinctive flipper stripe and back chevron. 

Calves are a “petite” 10 feet (3 meters) long at birth and weigh in at 1,000 lbs (450 kg).  It’s size saved the minke during the whaling age as it was thought to small to be worthwhile, but as larger whale species were depleted, the whalers began to hunt the minke as a replacement.  These were some of the last whales to be taken by the last commercial hunts.  In spite of this the minkes have prospered as they eat the food of now depleted larger whale species.  The population is thought to be over a million.


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