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Minke Whale - Balaenoptera acutorostrata
Photo by Regina Asmutis-Silvia, WDCS

Also called the little piked whale, due to the shape of its pointed snout, the minke whale reaches 35 feet in length and 10 tons, making it the smallest of the baleen whales in the sanctuary. Minke whales display a well-defined white band located on the middle of their dark pectoral flippersThey are fast and tend to stay at the surface for only short periods of time. They are the most common baleen whales in the world, as well as the most heavily hunted. There are an estimated 185,000 in the Atlantic Ocean and some3,000 in the Canadian Eastern Coastal stock, which includes the Gulf of Maine.

Minke Whale
(Balaenoptera acutorostrata)

From the ice edge in the Arctic during the summer to close to the equator during winter. There are an estimated 185,000 minke whales in the Atlantic. Minke whale populations in the western North Pacific and the northeastern North Atlantic may have been reduced by as much as half due to commercial whaling practices.

Prefer temperate to boreal waters, but are also found in tropical and subtropical areas. They feed most often in cooler waters at higher latitudes. These whales can be found in both coastal/inshore and oceanic/offshore areas.

Opportunistically feed on crustaceans (krill), plankton (copepods), and small schooling fish (dogfish, capelin, cod, herring, mackerel, salmon, sand lance). Minke whales feed by side-lunging into schools of prey as well as gulping large amounts of water


The status of this species is representative of the populations within the waters of this Sanctuary only, not global populations.

Quick Fact
Minke whales are known to vocalize and create sounds that include "clicks," "grunts," "pulse trains," "ratchets," "thumps," and recently discovered "boings."

Learn More
- NOAA Office of Protected Species
- Northeast Fisheries Science Center