Minke whales according to MammalMAP
Until recently, minke whales were considered as a single species, but mitochondrial DNA testinghas differentiated between the common minke whale and the Antarctic minke whale.
The Antarctic minke whale (Balaenoptera bonaerensis) is the larger species of minke whale. However, in whale terms, they are still relatively small – usually less than 10 meters in length and weighing on average 9 tonnes. These whales can be found in all oceans in the southern hemisphere.
In the polar regions, they are commonly found within 160 km of pack ice especially during winter. Antarctic minke whales sometimes use their rostrum to break ice to create breathing holes. Most minke whales seem to migrate between summer and winter grounds but some populations appear to remain in Antarctic waters throughout the year. Population distribution north of Antarctica is difficult to assess as there is significant overlap with common minke whales.
Antarctic minke whales can be solitary or form small groups of 2 – 4 individuals. Minke whales are notorious for their curiosity and are one of the most frequently observed Balaenopterabecause of their habit of approaching stationary boats.
Antarctic minke whales are baleen whales that feed primarily on Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba). Krill comprises 100% of stomach contents of Antarctic minke whales caught at the ice edge and 94% of the stomach contents of minke whales in the offshore zone. Feeding at the ice edge is more common in the early morning.
The IUCN Red List classifies Antarctic minke whales as a data deficient species as there is no formal estimate of population abundance.
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