Common Minke Whale

Common Minke Whale

Taxobox
name = Common Minke Whale MSW3 Cetacea|id=14300012]
status = LC
status_system = iucn3.1
status_ref =IUCN2008|assessors=Reilly, S.B., Bannister, J.L., Best, P.B., Brown, M., Brownell Jr., R.L., Butterworth, D.S., Clapham, P.J., Cooke, J., Donovan, G.P., Urbán, J. & Zerbini, A.N.|year=2008|id=2474|title=Balaenoptera acutorostrata|downloaded=7 October 2008]


image_caption =



image2_caption = Size comparison against an average human
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Mammalia
subclassis = Eutheria
ordo = Cetacea
subordo = Mysticeti
familia = Balaenopteridae
genus = "Balaenoptera"
species = "B. acutorostrata"
binomial = "Balaenoptera acutorostrata"
binomial_authority = Lacepede, 1804
range_map2 = Cetacea range map Minke Whale.png range_map2_caption = Common Minke Whale range
range_map3 = Cetacea range map Dwarf Minke Whale.png range_map3_caption = Dwarf Minke Whale range

The Common Minke Whale or Northern Minke Whale, ("Balaenoptera acutorostrata"), is a species of Minke Whale within the suborder of baleen whales.

Taxonomy

The Common Minke Whale was first identified by Lacepede in 1804.cite web|title=Mammal Species of the World|url=http://www.bucknell.edu/msw3/browse.asp?id=14300012|accessdate=2007-07-13] There are several forms of Common Minke Whale, including Scammon's Minke Whale ("B. a. scammoni") from the North Pacific and the Dwarf Minke Whale, from the Southern Hemisphere.cite web|title=Mammal Species of the World|url=http://www.bucknell.edu/msw3/browse.asp?id=14300012|accessdate=2007-07-13]

Until recently, all Minke Whales were considered a single species. However, the Common Minke Whale was recognized as a separate species from the Antarctic Minke Whale based on mitochondrial DNA testing.cite web|title=Cetacean mitochondrial DNA control region: sequences of all extant baleen whales and two sperm whale species|url=http://mbe.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/10/5/960|accessdate=2007-07-13] This testing also confirmed that the Antarctic Minke Whale is the closest relative of the Common Minke Whale, thus confirming the validity of the Minke Whale cladecite web|title=Cetacean mitochondrial DNA control region: sequences of all extant baleen whales and two sperm whale species|url=http://mbe.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/10/5/960|accessdate=2007-07-13]

Physical description

The Common Minke Whale is the smallest of the rorquals, and one of the smallest baleen whales (second smallest only to the Pygmy Right Whale). Except for the dwarf form, length ranges from 7 to 9.8 meters and weight ranges from 5 to 10 tons.cite book|title=Whales Dolphins and other Marine Mammals of the World|author=Jarrett, Brett and Shirihai, Hadoram|year=2006|page=62-68|id=ISBN 0-691-12757-3] On average, females are about 0.5 meters longer than males.cite book|title=Whales Dolphins and other Marine Mammals of the World|author=Jarrett, Brett and Shirihai, Hadoram|year=2006|page=62-68|id=ISBN 0-691-12757-3] Newborns range from 2.4 to 3.5 meters.cite book|title=Whales Dolphins and other Marine Mammals of the World|author=Jarrett, Brett and Shirihai, Hadoram|year=2006|page=62-68|id=ISBN 0-691-12757-3] The dwarf form has a smaller adult length of up to 7.8 meters.cite book|title=Whales Dolphins and other Marine Mammals of the World|author=Jarrett, Brett and Shirihai, Hadoram|year=2006|page=62-68|id=ISBN 0-691-12757-3]

The back is dark grey and the belly white. All forms have a pale chevron above the flippers or behind the head. All forms also have a white or light marking on each flipper. On the dwarf form the white marking covers most of the flipper. On the northern forms, there is a distinct white band running horizontally through the middle of each flipper. This band is more grey in the Scammon's Minke Whales.cite book|title=Whales Dolphins and other Marine Mammals of the World|author=Jarrett, Brett and Shirihai, Hadoram|year=2006|page=62-68|id=ISBN 0-691-12757-3]

The Common Minke Whale differs from the Antarctic Minke Whale in several aspects. The Common Minke Whale is slightly smaller than the Antarctic Minke Whale, and the Antarctic Minke Whale has much less white marking on the flippers. There are also less distinctive differences in body coloration and shape.cite book|title=Whales Dolphins and other Marine Mammals of the World|author=Jarrett, Brett and Shirihai, Hadoram|year=2006|page=62-68|id=ISBN 0-691-12757-3]

Distribution

Common Minke Whales have a disjointed distribution. The non-dwarf forms live in the North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans. The Scammon form is from the North Pacific. The dwarf form has a distribution completely separate from the other forms, living in southern oceans. The dwarf form has a distribution generally north of the Antarctic Minke Whale, although there is some overlap.cite book|title=Whales Dolphins and other Marine Mammals of the World|author=Jarrett, Brett and Shirihai, Hadoram|year=2006|page=62-68|id=ISBN 0-691-12757-3]

Whaling

Whaling was mentioned in Norwegian written sources as early as the year 800 and hunting Common Minke Whales with harpoons was common in the 11th centuryFact|date=August 2007.

By the end of the 1930s they were the target of coastal whaling from countries including Brazil, Canada, China, Greenland, Japan, Korea and Norway. Hunting continued apace until the general moratorium on whaling was introduced in 1986.

Following the moratorium, most hunting of Common Minke Whales ceased. Japan and more recently Iceland (in August 2003) have continued hunting for Minkes on scientific grounds, however, these "scientific grounds" are criticised by many environmental organisations as being a cover for commercial whaling. Both Iceland and Japan have the long term goal of resuming open commercial whaling. Although Norway initially followed the moratorium, they placed an objection to it with the IWC and resumed a commercial hunt in 1993. Norwegian whalers caught 639 in 2005. The quota for 2006 was set at 1052 animals, from which a catch of 546 was taken. [ [http://www.lofotposten.no/lokale_nyheter/article2241060.ece Tok bare halve hvalkvoten - lofotposten.no ] ]

Common Minke Whale-watching

Due to their relative abundance Common Minke Whales are often the focus of whale-watching cruises setting sail from, for instance, the Isle of Mull in Scotland, County Cork in Ireland and Húsavík in Iceland. Common Minke Whales are frequently inquisitive and will indulge in 'human-watching'. In contrast to the spectacularly acrobatic Humpback Whale, Minkes do not raise their fluke out of the water when diving and are less likely to breach (jump clear of the sea surface). This, combined with the fact that Minkes can dive under water for as long as twenty minutes, has led some whale-watching enthusiasts to label them 'stinky Minkes'. The name may also be applied because it is frequently possible to smell the breath of a Minke Whale whilst observing it from a boat.

Conservation Status

The Common Minke Whale is considered Least Concern by the IUCN red list.

References


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