Balaenoptera acutorostrata   Lacepede,  1804 (Whale)
Organism information awaits expert curation
Class: Mammalia

Image copyright: Mark Carwardine

Size: Male: 8 m; Female: 10.7 m

Weight: 10 tons

Color: Minke Whales are black to dark grey on the back, and white on the belly and on the underside of the flippers. Northern Hemisphere animals may have a distinctive diagonal band of white on each flipper, the extent varying between individuals. A paler chevron may be seen behind the head, and some shading occurs on the sides.

As in all the rorquals, except the Humpback Whale Megaptera novaeangliae, the body of the Minke Whale is slender and streamlined. The short head appears sharply triangular when viewed from above. There is a single prominent head ridge. The flippers are slim and pointed, whilst the tail flukes are broad, with a notched rear margin. There are 50 to 70 throat grooves, which end short of the navel, often just behind the flippers. The dorsal fin is tall and falcate, located two-thirds of the way back from the tip of the snout. The baleen plates number 230 to 260, and are up to 20 cm long and 12 cm broad at the base. In the Northern Hemisphere, the plates are creamy white, with fine, white bristles. In Southern Hemisphere animals, the baleen is often grey, with white, front plates. The blow of a Minke Whale is low (2 m), and usually inconspicuous. The fin often appears at the same time as the blow.

Out of the breeding season, the Minke Whales tend to occur alone or in pairs, but they may congregate in rich feeding areas.

Minkes travel very far in search of food. At sea, Minke Whales will approach vessels, particularly stationary boats, and so are more likely to be seen at close quarters than are the other large rorquals.

Synonym (s)
Agaphelus gibbosus Cope, 1968
Balaena gibbosa Cope, 1868
Balaena microcephala Tomilin, 1957
Balaena minima Rapp, 1837
Balaena minima borealis Knox, 1838
Balaena rostrata Fabricius, 1780
Balaenoptera acutorostrata thalmaha Deraniyagala, 1963
Balaenoptera davidsoni Scammon, 1872
Balaenoptera eschrichtius Rasch, 1845
Balaenoptera microcephala Gray, 1850
Balaenoptera rostrata Van Beneden & Gervais, 1880
Balaenoptera thalmaha thalmaha Deranyagala, 1963
Pterobalaena minor Eschricht, 1849
Pterobalaena minor bergensis Eschricht, 1849
Pterobalaena minor groenlandica Eschricht, 1849
Pterobalaena nana pentadactyla Barkow, 1862
Pterobalaena nana tetradactyla Barkow, 1862
Pterobalaena pentadactyla Flower, 1865
Rorqualus minor Hamilton, 1837
Sibbaldius mondinii Capellini, 1877

Common Name (s)
• Minke Whale (English)
• Piked Whale (English)
• Lesser Rorqual (English)
• Thimingalam (Tamil)
• Bagwhale (English)
• Bay Whale (English)
• Common Minke Whale (English)
• Davidson's Whale (English)
• Least Rorqual (English)
• Lesser Finback (English)
• Little Piked Whale (English)
• Pikehead Whale (English)
• Sharp Headed Finner Whale (English)
• Summer Whale (English)
• Thimingalam
Economic Importance and Threats

Habitat:  Open Sea, Coastal
Prey:  Fish, squid and krills.
Predator:  Killer whale (Orcinus orca)
IUCN Status:  Least Concern


• Bay of Bengal (Lat: 15) (Long: 90) INDIA
• Tamil Nadu, Tuticorin (Lat: 8.78) (Long: 78.13) INDIA
• Andhra Pradesh, Off Kakinada INDIA
• Tamil Nadu, Off Punnakayal INDIA
• Tamil Nadu, Tuticorin INDIA
• Tamil Nadu, Gulf of Mannar INDIA
• INDIA (Record: 1800-2000)

Literature Source(s)
  • Agarwal, VC and Alfred, JRB (1999) Handbook: Whales, dolphins and dugong from Indian seas ZSI, Calcutta 150 pp Available at - NCL, Pune
  • UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre Available at -
  • Molur, S and Walker, S (1998) Mammals of India. Report summary 1998 Zoos' Print Journal Zoo Outreach Organisation, Coimbatore 13(9) 7 Available at - NCL, Pune
  • Kumaran, PL (2002) Marine mammal research in India: A review and critique of the methods Current Science Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore 83(10) 1210-1220 Available at -
  • Borkar, M (2005) Marine mammals, turtles and crocodiles: A field manual NIO, Goa 63 pp Available at - NIO
  • Sathasivam K (2004) Marine mammals of India Universities Press(India) private limited, Hyderabad, India 180 pp Available at - NIO, Goa
  • (2003) IUCN Red list of threatened species Available at -
  • Society for the Management of European Biodiversity Data (2009) World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) Available at -
  • Marine Biological Station, Chennai, Tamil Nadu (2003) Checklist of marine fauna of Tamil Nadu Department of Environment, Government of Tamil Nadu Available at -
  • Dr. Ramesh, R; Dr. Nammalwar, P and Dr. Gowri, VS (2008) Database on coastal information of Tamil Nadu Report Submitted to Environmental Information System (ENVIS) Centre, Department of Environment, Government of Tamil Nadu Institute for Ocean Management, Anna University, Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Available at -
  • Dr. Kumaraguru, AK (2000) Studies on socioeconomics of Coral Reef resource users in the Gulf of Mannar coast, South India Centre for Marine and Coastal studies School of Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai, India Available at -
  • Pillai, PKM and Augustine, SK (2000) A code list of common marine living resources of the Indian seas CMFRI Special Publication No.12 CMFRI 1-115 Available at -
  • Padmanaban P and Dinesh K.P (2011) A checklist of Marine Mammals of India Marine Biology Reginal centre, Zoological Survey of India 4pp Available at -
  • Padmanaban P and Dinesh K.P (2011) A checklist of Marine Mammals of India Marine Biology Reginal centre, Zoological Survey of India 4pp Available at -
  • Jefferson, TA; Leatherwood, S and Webber, MA (2006) Marine mammals of the world World biodiversity database Available at -

Page last updated on:2012-11-07

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