Australian Wildlife

  Dwarf Minke Whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)

Dwarf Minke Whale | Balaenoptera acutorostrata photo
Dwarf Minke Whale

Image by Pcb21 - GNU Free Documentation License.    (view image details)


The Dwarf Minke Whale has dark band on the neck, between the end of the mouth and the flipper, which extends down each side of the throat. These dark throat patches are seen clearly when the whale rolls to show the underside of the body. The flippers are dark at the tip and white at the base of the flipper and shoulder. They are agile and can jump from the water like dolphins.

Grows to 8m. Dwarf Minke Whales are the second smallest baleen whale (after the pygmy right whale).

Between December and March, most sightings of the dwarf Minke whales are in sub Antarctic waters (58 60S) to the south of Australia and New Zealand. Between March and October, they are seen in the northern Great Barrier Reef, with most sightings in June and July.

Dwarf Minke Whales do not have teeth; instead they have 240 and 360 pairs of baleen plates. They feed by taking in mouthfuls of water containing many tiny krill (shrimp-like crustaceans) and fish. Dwarf Minke Whales have never been seen feeding on the northern Great Barrier Reef - they may feed in the open ocean while in the tropics.

Dwarf Minke Whales are have one calf each year. It is about 2 m long at birth. Minke whales suckle their young with a rich milk and calves are weaned after about 5-6 months

waters of South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia and the east coast of South America. Has been found around most of Australian coast except Tasmania and Northern Territory.

distribution map showing range of Balaenoptera acutorostrata in Australia

Map is from Atlas of Living Australia website at https://biocache.ala.org.au licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia License

Dwarf Minke Whales were first recognised as a distinct form in the mid 1980s where they attracted attention in northern Great Barrier Reef waters because they regularly approached close to boats and swimmers.

Conservation Status
The conservation status in the 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals is "lower risk/near threatened".

Common Name:Dwarf Minke Whale

Relatives in same Genus
  Bryde's Whale (B. edeni)
  Blue Whale (B. musculus)
  Fin Whale (B. physalus)