Common minke whale Balaenoptera acutorostrata Lacépède, 1804

Suborder: Mysticeti Family: Balaenopteridae

Sightings in Madeira

June to August

ID characteristics

Small, slim, sleek dark body with pale underside and pale chevrons behind head
Sharply pointed snout, flattened rostrum with longitudinal ridge on head
Flippers are relatively short with pointed tips and normally have a white band in the middle
Dorsal fin is tall and falcate

Surface behaviour

When surfacing the snout breaks the water first at low angle, followed by the blow and smooth body roll.
For diving it arches almost vertically, exposing tailstock high with dorsal fin still visible


Northern hemisphere between the equator and 70º North
Tropical, temperate and polar waters of the Northern hemisphere


Alone or on a group up to 3 individuals


Krill, crustaceans and fish


Max length: 9.8 m
Adult weight: 5 to 15 ton


Short, up to 2 meters high and not very visible

IUCN Status: Least concerned
Madeira frequency status: Rare

Other languages common names

ENG - Northern Minke whale, Lesser rorqual, Little piked whale
GER - Zwergwal, Minkwal
FRA - Baleine de Minke, Petit rorqual, Baleinoptère à museau pointu
ESP - Ballena de Minke, Rorcual Menor, Rorcual aliblanco, Ballena enana
SWE - Vikval
DAN - Vågehval
ITA - Balenottera minore, Balenottera rostrata
NED - Dwergvinvis
NOR - Nordleg vågekval, Nordlig vågehval
POL - Płetwal karłowaty
POR - Baleia de Minke, Baleia anã, Baleote, Baleia-minke, Finbeque (nos Açores)

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