Are minke whales endangered?
The minke whale is one of the most abundant rorquals whales in the world, but this was not always the case. Due to commercial whaling in the western North Pacific and the northeastern North Atlantic areas, their numbers may have dropped to as much as half. They are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, but according to the international whaling commission, they recognize two stocks in the North Pacific as being of concern. These stocks include the J-stock and the O-stock. Gratefully, this concern does not classify the minke whale as being endangered, but sadly these whales are still hunted in countries such as Japan, Iceland, and Norway.
Why are minke whales hunted? Minke whales were first hunted for their meat and blubber, and often because they were mistaken for larger whales. In fact, they received their name from a Norweigan novice spotter named Meincke, who mistakenly thought a minke whale was a blue whale. Because of the overhunting of larger whales such as blue, fin, and sei whales in the early 1970s, minke’s have become a more appealing target for whaling. Although the heartbreaking reality of whaling is still present, the minke whale population reaches over 500,000 worldwide.
These numbers remain stable despite whaling and natural predators such as the killer whale, which somewhat resembles the minke in both size and coloration.