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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, North American Mammals

  Cetacea · Balaenopteridae · Balaenoptera acutorostrata

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Balaenoptera acutorostrata

Common Minke Whale

Order: Cetacea
Family: Balaenopteridae

Image of Balaenoptera acutorostrata
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Conservation Status: Least Concern.

Common Minke Whales are the second-smallest baleen whales. They are identifiable by a narrow, pointy snout, and most seen in North American waters have a white stripe on the back of each flipper. Minkes are relatively common in coastal waters, where they feed on marine crustaceans and fish. They may also become the prey of killer whales. During spring and summer Minkes generally migrate north through coastal waters. In fall and winter they go south, taking an offshore route. They tend to occur in small groups of two or three. Mature females can calve every year, after a gestation of about 10 months. Calves are born at any time of the year, but mostly in January and June. Newborns are less than 3 m long, nurse for 4 or 5 months, and take at least 6-7 years to mature.

Also known as:

Sharp-headed Finner, Lesser Rorqual, Piked Whale, Little Piked Whale

Sexual Dimorphism:

Females are larger than males.


Range: 6.7-9.8 m males; 7.3-10.7 m females


Range: 20,000-40,000 kg


Lacépède, B-G, 1804. Histoire Naturelle des Cétacées, Paris: Plassan An XII, p. 134.


Mammal Species of the World (opens in a new window).

Distribution of Balaenoptera acutorostrata

Image of Balaenoptera acutorostrata
Balaenoptera acutorostrata - feeding
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