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Adult Antarctic Minke Whale (Balaenoptera bonaerensis) surfacing in ice near Larrouy Island on the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula. This whale is also known as the Southern Minke Whale. The minke whale is the second smallest of the baleen whales - only the pygmy right whale is smaller. Upon reaching sexual maturity (6-8 years of age), male and female minke whales measure an average of 6.9 and 7.4 metres (22'8" to 24' 3") in length, respectively. Estimates of maximum length vary from 9.1 m to 10.7 m (28'10" to 35'1") for females and 8.8 m to 9.8 m (28'8" 10" to 32'5") for males. Both sexes typically weigh 4-5 tons at maturity, and the maximum weight may be as much as 14 tons. The gestation period for minke whales is 10 months and babies measure 2.4 to 2.8 metres (7'10" to 9'2") at birth. The newborns nurse for five months. Minke whales typically live for 30-50 years; in some cases they may live for up to 60 years. As of 2008, the IWC estimates for Southern Hemisphere Minke Whales is 665,074 . The IUCN list Antarctic Minke as Lower Risk/Conservation dependent.


Michael Nolan