Image Keith Hiscock - Dead minke whale stranded at Freshwater West beach, Pembrokeshire. Image width ca 0.5 m in foreground.
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|Phylum||Chordata||Sea squirts, fish, reptiles, birds and mammals|
|Class||Mammalia||Seals, walrus, dolphin and whales|
|Recorded Distribution in Britain and Ireland||Recorded along the Atlantic coasts of Britain and Ireland, and the northern and central North Sea, south to the Yorkshire coast. Rare in the English Channel, with localised records in the Irish Sea.|
|Habitat information||An open water species, most often seen in coastal and inshore areas but sometimes enters inlets, bays or estuaries.|
|Description||The Minke is a medium sized whale, sleek in shape, with a very pointed head. It is dark grey to black in colour with a white underside and has white patches behind the head and a bright white band on the outer part of the flippers. Adults reach lengths of 6.75-10 m long and 5 -10 tonnes in weight. The new born calf is ca 2.5 m long and weighs ca 350 kg. There are 30-70 throat grooves that always end before the naval (umbilicus). The dorsal fin is sickle-shaped, and about two-thirds of the way back from the tip of the animal's snout. The tail flukes are a quarter of the animal's length in width, and are not shown when diving. There are 230-360 baleen plates, 12 -20 cm long, in each half of the upper jaw, which are yellowish-white at the front to grey-brown at the rear.|
|Additional information||The blow is very weak and can been seen at the same time as the dorsal fin appears. Spyhopping and breaching are common for this species, which forms small groups of up to 3 individuals. The Minke can remain submerged for up to 20 minutes (Kinze, 2002).
This whale could be confused at a distance with the Sei whale and the Bryde's whale as they are relatively the same size, however the weak blow of the Minke whale and dorsal fin appearing at the same time as the blow is characteristic. At close range the white bands on the Minke's flippers are diagnostic (Jefferson et al., 1993; Kinze, 2002).Baleen whales are included in group species action plan under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (Anon, 1999v). All baleen whales are protected under schedule 5 in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985. All whales are listed on Annex A of EU Council Regulation 338/97 and therefore treated by the EU as if they are on CITES, Appendix I, thus prohibiting their commercial trade (Anon, 1999v). Whales are listed in Appendix I of CITES, Appendix II of the Bern Convention and Annex IV of the EC Habitats Directive (Anon, 1999v).
This review can be cited as follows:
Rose Edwards 2006. Balaenoptera acutorostrata. Minke whale. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 26/05/2013]. Available from: <http://www.marlin.ac.uk/speciesinformation.php?speciesID=2703>