Crustaceans (esp. krill), small schooling fish
40-50 years (estimated)
Hi there! Forgive me, I am a bit shy. Actually, I am very shy. But look at how agile I move through the water! I am a MINKE WHALE, 7-10 metres in length and up to 11 tons heavy. Just like my larger fellows, also I am here in Skjálfandi Bay and other places around Iceland to feed on all kinds of fish and krill, often near the coastline. While there might be more of us around, I really just like my own company and cherish my solidary lifestyle.
I am named after a sir called Meincke who apparently mistook one of my ancestors for a blue whale. Actually – isn´t that cool? Maybe I am not so small after all.
If I am spotted, you got to react quickly! I may be small, but believe me: I am fast! I swiftly swim through the bay, changing course frequently and at random, on speeds of up to 40 km/h. If that´s necessary? Sustaining high speeds helps me perform agile manoeuvres when hunting as well as evade predators such as killer whales, who can’t keep up with my speed for long.
In difference to my cousins, I surface elegantly with the tip of my snout and then glide along the surface. My scientific name actually refers to my head’s shape: “acutorostrata” meaning sharp snout!
By now, if you’re still with me, the guide has probably called me a “stinky minke”. I do admit, my breath may be smelly, but all these delicacies the bay has to offer are just way too good to me missed out on – and whale, whale, pounds of slow-digesting crustaceans make you pay for it in some way…
Last, I must disappoint you: you maybe waited for this picturesque moment of me lifting my tail out of the water? I am sorry, I just simply can’t!
But if you look closely, you’ll notice the pretty pattern in all shades of grey, some blacks and browns or even shades of purple on the sides of my body – the most complex colouring of all baleen whales. Generally, I have a countershading, meaning I have a dark upper and a light lower side, which helps me blend into my environment, sneak up on my clueless prey or evade predators.
In addition, I have these beautiful white bands on my flippers (pectoral fins). I have heard you humans say it looks like I dressed my fins in mittens, while I believe much more than that it looks like I am wearing bracelets. Am I not pretty?
Relative size to a human