Minke Whale!

by firmm Team

On the way back from the trip between 11:00 am and 01:00 pm I suddenly recognize a movement in the swell, but do not see a blow or anything else conspicuous. The boat is running at full speed so I think it is not worth it to stop for one small dolphin. A few hundred meters further I see a similar movement in the water and realize that it was caused by a bigger animal. We stop the boat and move very slowly when suddenly a whale appears at the surface in front of us. All together the whale appears 4 times close to us and by habit one could easily think of a Fin whale calf. But a single calf is very unlikely. The whale also shows its "nose" when it appears, something a fin whale does not do. Furthermore, the ridge of the whale's upper jaw is even more edged than the one of the Fin whale. Theoretically the northern Minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) could be identified properly by the white stripes on the upper side of their pectoral fins, but these are quite rare to be seen. (see photo below; Picture: Wale.info)

Minke Whale

However, the southern Minke whale (Balaenoptera bonaerensis) has no such white stripes. If the first movement was caused by another Minke whale we will never know. Minke whales are really good in disappearing if they want to. Maybe an escape mechanism, which they developed as they still are a hunted species. They are quite rare to be observed in the strait of Gibraltar, this was only the sixth sighting in 10 years.


Photo above: Minke whale, 15.10.2003 close to Tarifa. (Photo: KH)


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