Distribution and Seasonal Occurrence

Minke whales  have a worldwide distribution  but most are  seasonal in occurrence due to their migration from their calving and breeding grounds in the tropics to their feeding grounds towards the polar regions. 

Minkes whales can be divided in 3 main subspecies, divided by the regions: the North Atlantic form Balaenoptera acutorostrata acutorostrata,  the North Pacific form Balaenoptera acutorostrata scammoni  and the Southern Hemisphere form  Balaenoptera acutorostrata bonaerensis.

Dwarf minkes are found in the Southern Hemisphere but are not presently recognised as a subspecies, being more closely related to the Northern Hemisphere subspecies. 

Minke whales can be found offshore but on their summer feeding grounds they tend to occupy coastal and inshore waters, entering bays and inlets. The winter breeding distribution of minkes whales is poorly documented and this lack of knowledge is one of the main mysteries of the minke  whale. Mating behaviour has not been directly observed for this species. 

Sex and age segregation 

Seasonal sex and age segregation is pronounced in minke whales. This means that whales will group up and travel in certain age and sex classes and will appear in areas at different times. For example,  during the summer in the North Atlantic, sexual and age segregation occurs with the mature females predominating in the early summer months in the coastal regions and also in the most northern regions during most of the season whilst the males migrate north in open seas. The immature whales are believed to migrate slightly later and remain further south.



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