Antarctic minke whale

Balaenoptera bonaerensis
Other names: 
  • Antarctic minke whale
Maximum length: 
  • Male: 9.70m
  • Female: 10.70m
  • Calf: 2.80m
Maximum weight: 
  • Male: Unknown
  • Female: Unknown
  • Calf: Unknown
Diet: 
  • Krill and occasionally schooling fish
Estimated population: 
Unknown
IUCN Listing: 
DD
CITES Appendix: 
I
CMS Appendix: 
II
Classification: 

The minke whale is the smallest rorqual whale and, as such, was the last to be targeted by whalers. Until the turn of the century, the minke was treated as one species but it is now widely accepted that there are two species: a common minke and an Antarctic minke whale. The latter overlaps in its distributional range with a small form of the common minke, sometimes called the dwarf minke whale.

Appearance: 

The body colour is usually black or dark brown with streaks of paler colour on their lateral sides, and a distinctly paler belly. It has a notably pointed rostrum and a single ridge on its head. This species often has a yellow wash to its baleen as a result of diatom growth. Most importantly, the Antarctic minke lacks the distinctive white flipper mark that is found in the common minke whale.

Behaviour: 

Antarctic minke whales are known from around 7ºS to the ice edge (and into the ice fields) during the austral summer. There they feed mainly on krill and, in turn, are important prey items for the orca that also live in these waters. They will occasionally approach smaller boats when feeding.

Distribution: 

Minke whales (both Antarctic and common) continue to be hunted in large numbers by the Japanese whaling fleet. Other threats to this species include bycatch and climate change. They are categorised as Data Deficient by the IUCN Red List (2008).

Distribution map: