Contents |   Seabirds   |   Colonies   |  Other Sea Life   |   Take a Trip   |   Trip Reports   |   Sources  |   

New England Seabirds

 Wilson's Storm-petrel  Dave Jones

Other Sea Life

Baleen Whales

Humpback Whale
Minke Whale
Sei Whale
Fin Whale
Blue Whale
Right Whale

Comments to webmaster


Baleen Whales

 Minke Whale

Balaenoptera acutorostrata acutorostata

Minke Whale

The genus Balaenoptera contains the baleen whales : Minke Whale, Fin Whale, Bryde’s Whale (Buda’s), Sei Whale (Sigh) , and Blue Whale.  Along with the Humpback Whale that does not belong to this genus they are commonly referred to as Rorquals

All members of the genus Balaenoptera share some similar characteristics

 The Balaenoptera are slim, fast moving whales.

They have long narrow flippers in contrast to the paddle shaped flippers of the Right Whales. The flippers are not as long as those of the Humpback Whale and are more pointed.

 All  have throat pleats which facilitate filter feeding.

 All have two blow holes.  Under normal conditions the blow is a tall column and is neither "V"shaped or forward leaning.  Strong winds can cause the column of the blow to fall over appearing more bushy.

Minke WhaleTaxonomy
Two subspecies are currently recognized with a third subspecies not yet named or recognized. The Antartic Minke Whale is a full species..

acutorostata acutorostata North Atlantic Minke Whale or Common Minke Whale
B. a. scammoni North Pacific Minke Whale
B. a. (subspecies) A dwarf form not yet recognized or named as a subspecies.
B. bonaernsis Antarctic Minke Whale

This page discusses the North Atlantic Minke Whale which is frequently seen on whale watches and pelagic trips from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. Sometimes overlooked because it does not spend much time on the surface.

Minke Whale EB Tarry Minke Whale starting a dive.  Note the sickle shaped dorsal fin placed on the rear 1/3 of the back.

Smaller than either the Humpback or the Fin Whale, the Minke Whales rarely spends much time on the surface providing few opportunities for photographs.


When the whale first surfaces both the dorsal fin and the blow holes are seen at the same time.

Head is triangular shaped with rather pointed snout.

The fippers have a white band across the upper surface which is a good identification mark.

The ventral pleats end just about at the rear end of the flippers attachment.

By NOAA -, Public Domain,

Does not lift flukes on diving. Occasionally spyhops. May follow small boats. The blow is weak and is seen at the same time that the dorsal fin is visible. Rarely breeches. The author has only seen a Minke Whale breech once and that was near Cape Cod.

The Minke Whale feeds on small fish such as Herring or Capelin and small crustaceans. Known to feed just under the surface.

Range and Distribution
If you include all the subspecies the Minke Whale is one of the most widely distributed baleen whale. They occur in the North Atlantic, North Pacific from tropical to polar waters. They are usually found in coastal and shelf waters, but migrate south and north in deeper ocean waters.

Other Sea Life   |   Cetaceans Index   |  Baleen WhalesHumpback | Fin | Blue | Sei  |  Minke   | Right   | Top of Page

Folkens, Peter (2002) Guide to Marine Mammals of the World Alfred A. Knopf New York
Kinze, Carl Charistian (2001) Marine Mammals of the North Atlantic Princeton University Press Princeton NJ, Public Domain,