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The Winged Sharp Snouted Whale

The latin name derives from the genus balaenoptera (‘winged whale’) and acutorostrata (‘sharp snout’) which refers to the extremely pointy head and bonaerensis (from ‘Buenos Aires’). The common name goes back to a Norwegian named Meincke, a novice whaler who repeatedly misidentified this species while spotting for whales at sea.

Africaans Minkewalvis - Chinese 쇠정어리고래 - Danish Vågehval - Dutch Dwergvinvis - English Pikehead, Little Piked Whale, Pike Whale, Little Finner, Sharp-headed Finner, Lesser Finback, Lesser Rorqual - Finnish Lahtivalas - French Petit rorqual - Gaelic Muc-mhara-mhionc - German Zwergwal, Minkwal - Iceland Hrefna - Italian Balenottera minore - Japanese ミンククジラ - Norwegian Vågehval - Polish Płetwal karłowaty - Portugese baleia-de-minke - Spanish rorcual albibianco, ballena de minke commún - Swedish Vikval


Generally, minke whales are associated with coastal waters or ice edge areas. Today their division into two species is generally accepted. The Northern or common minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata, Lacépéde 1804) and the southern or Antarctic minke whale (Balaenoptera bonaerensis, Burmeister 1867). The Northern minke whale is further divided into two subspecies, the North Atlantic (B. acutorostrata acutorostrata) and the North Pacific (B. acutorostrata scammoni) minke whale. The genetic variation among the North Atlantic minke whales based on DNA analysis seem to be either non-existent or at a very low level. The taxonomic status of the dwarf minke whale in the southern hemisphere is not yet clear but it is suggested to be a separate subspecies of the Northern minke whales.

Order: Cetacea
Family: Balaenopteridae
Genus: Balaenoptera


B. acutorostrata Common minke whale
B. bonaerensis Antarctic minke whale
B. a. acutorostrata North Atlantic minke whale
B. a. scammoni North Pacific minke whale
B. a. unnamed ssp. Dwarf minke whale