The Falkland Islands and South Atlantic
SOUTHERN MINKE WHALE Balaenoptera bonerenis

SOUTHERN MINKE WHALE Balaenoptera bonerenis

Minke whales belong to the family Balaenopteridae or 'Rorqual' (old Norse meaning 'grooved whale') whales, characterised by their sleek body form and pleated throat grooves that expand when the whales feed allowing them to take massive gulps of food and water. They are baleen whales and Humpback, Blue, Sei, and Bryde's whales are included in this group. They are the largest animals ever to inhabit the world.

Minke whales are small and sleek with a proportionally small, syharp pointed head and a single narrow rostrum ridge runs from the splashguard (with two blowholes) to the snout tip. There are 200-300 baleen plates on each side of the mouth with asymmetrical coloration. The dorsal fin is prominent and about two thirds along the back. The tail is large and sickle-shaped. They can measure up to 10.7; females are up to 1m longer than males and are dark grey above with white undersides. Flippers are light grey, often with a distinct light band.

Minke females calve annually, gestation is 11-12 months and calves are born in warmer waters. They are up to 2.8m long when they are born. They are mature at 5-8 years but grow for a further 7 years.

Diet is largely krill but they may take small schooling fish.

Their blow is not usually visible, it is low and inconspicuous, and they do not raise their flukes when they dive but often arch their backs.

Their IUCN Conservation status is 'Lower risk- conservation dependent'.

In the Falklands the Southern Minke whales are classed as a 'regular' cetaceans. It is thought that Balaenoptera bonerenis, the southern or Antarctic minke occurs around the Falkland Islands rather than the common minke whale B. acutorostrata. They migrate to and from Antarctica and warmer tropical waters, usually travelling singly, and mostly sighted during the summer over the Patagonian shelf to the northwest of the Falklands zone and around East Falkland. The Falkland Islands Marine Mammals Ordinance 1992 protects all marine mammals in all waters from the coast to the edge of the economic exclusion zone.


Sources include: Sea Mammals of the World-Randall R. Reeves, Brent S. Steware, Phillip J Clapham, James A Powell,Falkland Islands State of the Environment Report 2008 Otley H, Munro G, Clausen A, Ingham B. Wikipedia, Falklands Conservation, A Complete Guide to Antarctic Wildlife- Hadoram Shiriha
Photographic credits: Vladsilver/, NaniP/
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