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6 Things That Are Amazing About Minke Whales

Overhead view of minke whale from a drone

Ever heard of a minke whale (pronounced mink-eee)? Minkes may be one of the smallest of the great rorqual whales, but they are swift and sweet and the minke whale facts we can’t wait to share with you are sure to make you fall in love with these amazing animals. Minkes are curious creatures and can sometimes be hard to track. Find out more below about what you will see while Dana Point whale watching and why you will want to see these little beauties out in the wild and book a trip with Capt. Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari today!

Here are our top six minke whale facts that will blow your mind!

1) Minke whales are stinky!

One of the most well-known minke whale facts is minke whales have stinky breaths! Minkes are fan favorites and a diet that can make a whale’s breath more than memorable. Krill, anchovies, slow-dissolving crustaceans, dogfish, capelin, coalfish, cod, eels, herring, mackerel, salmon, and more are all sought-after delicacies when it comes to ringing a minke whale’s dinner bell. After consuming food that may only partially digest, it is only natural for minkes to earn the name “stinky minke.” Their notable stench is another scouting tool we use while out on our Dana Point whale watching safari’s, making this one of the most pungent minke whale facts on our list. Minke whales can also hold their breath for sometimes longer than 15 minutes before needing to come to the surface for air. Like humans, whales require oxygen from the surface to breathe. Often minkes will take three short breaths before quickly heading back under the water’s surface. When chased by a predator, these whales are oxygen-efficient and can hold their breath for nearly 20 minutes!

A minke whale above the surface of the water

2) Minke whales got their name from an amateur whale spotter!

The origin story of the minke whale is a fascinating tale. Some whale enthusiasts may not realize that historic minke whale facts begin with a tale with Meincke, a novice Norweigein whale watcher playing the role of the main character who allegedly mistook minke for a blue whale. Thus, the minke whale name was born. Today the scientific names for minke whales translate to: “winged whale,” (Balaenoptera) “sharp snout” (acutorostrata). Three subspecies of minkes exist. The Common minke whale or northern minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) which is what we see here in Dana Point, CA, the Antarctic minke whale or southern minke whale (Balaenoptera bonaerensis), and the dwarf minke whale who can be seen in the waters of the northern Great Barrier Reef, home to the only known congregation of dwarf minke whales in the world. Now those are ‘whaley’ cool minke whale facts if you ask us!

3) Minke whales are the size of a London double-decker bus.

Another one of our favorite minke whale facts is minke whales are one of the smallest of the great rorqual whales, second to that of the pygmy right whale (Caperea marginata). Weighing nearly 8 tons or around 20,000 pounds, reaching lengths up to 35 feet, minke whales are considered the smallest amongst their other baleen buddies. A lifetime for minke whales can last between 30 and 50 years, with some lives lasting past 50 years. Born nearly the size of an adult bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), measuring approximately 10 feet in length and already weighs 1,000 pounds at birth.

Minke whale facts worth sharing are that they may be small compared to other larger whales, but their size is still comparable to the size of one of London’s famous double-decker buses.

4) Minke whales are FAST!

Though they are small, minke whales are fast! These magnificent creatures swiftly swim through open waters changing directions frequently and at random. These magnificent marine mammals have the capability of reaching top speeds over 25 mph when being chased by orca (or killer whales, Orcinus orca). They also almost never show their flukes which is one of the reasons that makes these whales more elusive and harder to spot in the open ocean. Another incredible minke whale fact blowing our minds is that their speed may play a factor in their migration patterns too. Both minke whale species travel towards the poles in spring and more temperate warmer waters in the tropics in winter and fall. Once onboard Manute’a, with her incredible underwater viewing pods, or any of our zodiac and whale watching dolphin safari or a private charters, Capt. Dave’s has you covered! We are all excited to see the whales just as much as you are so come on board and let’s start whale watching together today!

Capt. Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari tours always aim to share the incredible knowledge our Captains and Marine Naturalists have. Sharing their favorite minke whale facts and stories is a breeze and will support you in connecting and sharing the experience of being with these animals while you are out with us and your friends and family. Once you have the chance to see these amazing animals on any one of our Dana Point whale watching safaris, we are confident you will want to come back for more!

Overhead view of minke whale from a drone

5) Minke whales are the most common rorquals.

Found in oceans worldwide, minke whales are at the top of the list when it comes to being the most common of the great rorquals. One of the most exciting minke whale facts is that being “common” isn’t the only thing setting these animals apart from the others rorqual whale groups. Age, sex, and maturity all dictate where the minke whales live. Typically, the older and more mature minke spend their days in colder polar waters while younger minke whales live on their own in warmer, central waters. Older minke whales will typically group while younger whales live a life much more solitary. Lucky for us in Dana Point, California, the Whale Watching Capital of the World®, the best time to whale watch in Southern California is any day of the week, all year long!

6) Some minke whales wear white armbands.

Minke whale facts would not be complete without highlighting the cool characteristics of their coloring. Yes, minke whales are known for their rich dark color and sometimes purplish hue, but in the Northern hemisphere, it is their distinct white armbands that set them apart from their Antarctic cousins. Unmistakable from the surface, their white armbands glow almost a teal color from the reflection of the sun before they pierce through the surface showing off the white stripe upon each of their fins. Since minke whales are known for never showing off their flukes, this extremely identifiable characteristic is paramount when identifying minke whales from the surface.

There is no better time to book the best whale watching in Southern California! We hope you have enjoyed learning a little bit more about these fantastic 30-foot beauties. Join us today for a cruise out at sea. We can’t wait to share the experience of seeing one of these amazing whales with you and your guests!

Until then,

Jess Wright
First Mate and Marine Naturalist
Capt. Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari

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