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Fins and Minkes: The Other Guys!

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Animal Updates | Mammals | Conservation | Education | Whale Watching

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Julien

The blue whale definitely took center stage this summer with their amazing displays of size and appetite, but what about their smaller cousins? The blues have continued to give us great trips with their surface lunge feeding but the fin and minke whales have also been around feeding alongside the blues on the krill! Most people, that I have encountered, have never heard of a fin or a minke whale and are always surprised that we have them all year-round in our waters and see them quite often. Fin whales are the second largest animal on Earth, just coming in 2nd to the blue whale. The blue whale gets all of the glory, but the fin whales are cool too! They are fast and extremely streamlined as they hunt for krill and small fish. They are called the greyhounds of the sea because of their speed which can reach 23mph! They are dark in color and have gorgeous paint like saddles of white and gray around their head. We have been seeing them often either feeding along with the blues, or in their own little group. Though we may see several fins feeding together, because they are a baleen whale, they are usually solitary unless they have a calf. Fins live and breed in our waters, don’t usually migrate, and are still a bit of a mystery to whale researchers.

Minkes have a bad rap for those who whale watch often or work on a whale watch boat. Their nick-name is the ‘stinky minke’ because of their scarcity (they don’t stick around very long and are partial to boats) and their bad fish breath. But, I call them the ninjas of the sea since they do come and go so fast and are small, stealthy whales. In fact, they are one of the smallest of the baleen whale species averaging out at around 25-30 feet! Did you know they are one of the most common of all the whales? They are found in all oceans of the world and there are 2 species, the Antarctic minke and the common minke. Recently, scientists have divided the common minke into three subspecies, so they are quite diverse! For those guests who have never heard of the fin or the minke whales before, I usually refer to the “whale war” type shows who are trying to stop whaling of fins and minkes. Since these two whales are found mostly worldwide and are in abundance, they are the main target for whalers. Within the last couple of weeks, BREACHING minkes have been the highlight of our trips!

Blues are still being seen very frequently along with common dolphins and bottlenose dolphins, but our blue whale watches have come to an end. Our trips have segwayed into ‘Dolphin and Sea Life’ cruises as of the beginning of October, so fins and minkes are the whales we are searching for! We don’t know, as usual, how long the blues will be staying here, but for now, we are happy to say we are still seeing them frequently AND they are still feeding on krill!

So come on outand look for blue whales with us while they are still migrating around our area along with the other guys! See you there!

Fins and Minkes: The Other Guys!
A fin whale surface lunge feeding on krill near the boat.  | Aquarium of the Pacific
Fins and Minkes: The Other Guys!
A very unique shot of a blue whale just seconds before surfacing for air, something we see often but rarely get the perfect picture!  | Aquarium of the Pacific
Fins and Minkes: The Other Guys!
If you ever wondered what blue whale baleen looks like, here it is! It is hanging from the roof of its mouth, brown in color, as the blue lunges for krill and its ventral throat pleats expand.  | Aquarium of the Pacific
Fins and Minkes: The Other Guys!
Double blue whale lunge!  | Aquarium of the Pacific

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