June 29th 2015

Fantastic time at sea this last week, we have seen an amazing variety of cetaceans, porpoise, dolphins and whales, this shows that summer is really here, the water is warming up and there are lots of fish in the water for these mammals to feed on.

Minke whales are the species of whales that we see here most often, they are the smallest baleen whale, they sieve through the ocean water with their baleen and filter and eat plankton and small fish. They can grow up to 30 feet long and weigh about 6-8tonnes. These whales breath air at the surface through two blowholes near the top of the head. They can dive for up to 20-25 minutes but usually they make shorter dives, just before diving minke whales arch their back to a great degree and then dive to the depths. They make very loud sounds underwater, up to 152 decibels (as loud as a jet taking off!). These sounds may be used in communication with other minke whales.

Minke whale breeding occurs mostly in the late winter to early spring and in warm waters. Gestation period is about 10 months and the calf is born near the surface, it instinctively swims to the surface within 10 seconds for its first breath helped by its mother. Within 30 minutes the baby can swim on its own, as with other mammals the baby is nurtured on its mother’s milk. The mother and calf may stay together for a year or longer.

This picture is of a baby minke we saw last year, since minkes tend to come back to the same area every year we hope to see it again this year with its mother.