The Antarctic Minke Whale is more robust than the other large rorquals (large baleen whales). The rostrum of the Antarctic Minke Whale is very narrow and pointed, with a single ridge on the head. The dorsal fin is tall and falcate (sickle-shaped) and positioned relatively far forward on the posterior third of the body. The Antarctic Minke Whale has a dark bluish-grey back, sharply contrasting the pale grey to white flanks and belly. The lateral colouration is complex, including a crescent-shaped grey streak that extends up each side of the animal, above the flipper insertion and towards the dorsal midline where they meet. A pair of grey streaks extend posteriorly (towards the back) for about 0.6 m from the blowhole. The flippers are slim and pointed, with no white blaze on the upper surface. Some individuals have a two-tone light grey colour on their flippers. Both flipper colour patterns can be present in an individual. The underside of the flippers and the tail flukes is white. Antarctic Minke Whales have asymmetrically coloured baleen, with the right side series having a larger number of white plates anteriorly than the left. Calves are born at about 2.8 m in length, and grow at a rate of approximately 1 cm per day while suckling. The maximum length of Antarctic Minke Whales appears to be around 9.8 m. Antarctic Minke Whales are not gregarious and tend to swim alone or in pairs, although large feeding groups of up to 400 individuals may form in the higher latitudes. Immature Antarctic Minke Whales males may be more solitary than mature males, at least at higher latitudes. Minke whales are known to be curious, often approaching boats from a distance.
Antarctic Minke Whale, Dark-shoulder Minke Whale |
Status: Vulnerable on the EPBC Act list
Government evidence of impact of climate change:
Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, Species Profile and Threats Database, Balaenoptera bonaerensis
Increasing ocean temperatures predicted by climate change scenarios could potentially decrease the extent of occurrence; with warmer water extending southwards along both coasts and restricting the northward range of this species.