The Minke Whale – An Introduction

Dear reader,

Whalecome at the introduction of the whales of Skjálfandi bay part 3. After the blue whale and the porpoise lets introduce the minke whale!

Latin name: Balaenoptera acutorostrata           
Common name: Minke whale  
Icelandic name: Hrefna              
Average life span: 50 years       
Diet: krill and small fish
Size: 6 – 10 meters        
Weight: 10 tons

Minke whales are one of the smallest of the baleen whales. There are two different species of minke whales, the common (northern) minke whale and the Antarctic (southern) minke whale. The northern minke whale can be found round Iceland.

Minke whales, like other baleen whales, use the filter feeding technique to feed. Minke whales mostly live individually. The max speed for minke is 40km/h, on average they swim between 5-25 km/h. Minke whales have one predator, groups of orca´s (killer whales). The chases of Orca´s and minke whales can last up to 1 hour. Minkes are known by some people as stinky minke, due to their bad breath, when you are close to a minke and it breaths out you can smell the breath. The dive times of minke whales are up to 20 minutes, on average 3- 5 minutes. Minke whale do not show their tail (fluke) when they go for a dive.

Minke whales become sexually mature at the age of 6, like most baleen whale minkes migrate at the end of summer to warmer waters in the south (near the equator). Here they mate and give birth, the gestation period of minke whales is 10 months. When the calf is born its 2,5 meters long and weighs 450 kg. In 6 months they have doubled in size.

Unfortunatly minke whales are one of the whale species that is still being hunted by Japan. The japanese government has allowed for 52 minke whales to be hunted in 2019. The Antarctic minke whale has the status of near threatened according to IUCN red list.

Minke whales in Skjálfandi bay can be seen throughout the year in Skjálfandi, however the chance are getting smaller. This is because warming of the sea waters which causes the prey of the minkes to move further north, which means that the minkes followed their prey.