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Minke whales are a type of rorqual whale and are the smallest and most abundant of the baleen whales. They grow to be about 8-9m long and weigh between 5,400 to 6,800kg. As with all baleen whales, females are larger than males. Their long slender bodies are black to dark grey on top and white on the underside and they have a narrow, triangular jaw.

There are two species of minke whales: the common or northern minke whale and the Antarctic or southern minke whale. Minkes are known for their curiosity and they sometimes swim beside ships at speeds of up to 34km/h.

Minke whales have the same diet as blue whales, feeding mainly on krill or small schooling fish. These elegant cetaceans often travel alone, but sometimes can be found in small pods of two to three individuals.

Minke whales are not as plentiful as humpback whales, but if you’re lucky, you may still see one!

Whaling of minke whales

Minke whales are the most widely hunted species in our oceans and continue to be threatened by continued commercial and so-called scientific whaling by Iceland, Norway and Japan.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified minke whales in their Red List Category and Criteria as 'Least Concern'. That means the population is estimated to be above the threshold considered to be threatened. However, the IUCN also recommends ongoing monitoring of the impact that the expected rise in Arctic temperatures have on minke whales in that region.

To see the latest sightings of whales along the NSW coastline, visit our latest sightings map.