Minke & Orca Whales

The Small Minke Whale Visitors

The smallest of the baleen whales, the minke whale, is about eight to nine meters (25 to 30 feet) long and weighs about seven tons. The nose of the minke is noticeably narrower than other whales. These small whales migrate off the coasts of Norway, Iceland and Greenland in the Atlantic and to the Okhotsk and Bering Seas off the coasts of Alaska and Russia to feed during the summer months.

About 800,000 Minke whales exist in the world’s oceans. With a life of about 20 years, these whales are hunted by Norwegian whalers, by Greenland’s native peoples and by Japanese whalers, who take 150 whales each year in the North Pacific.

Orca, the Ocean’s Wolf

Killer whales, also known as orca whales are the largest type of dolphin. Found throughout the earth’s salt water, orcas can be seen off Norwegian coasts, in the Canadian Arctic, around Greenland, and in the lower parts of arctic areas of the North Pacific.

At eight to 10 meters (27-33 feet) long and 3,600-5,400 kilograms (8,000-12,000 pounds), these stocky black and white spotted predators group together in pods of six to 40 orcas to systematically hunt fish, squid, seals and even whales that are larger than orcas.

Reaching an age of 90, up to four generations might hunt together. Orca pods are organized through a maternal lineage. Orcas are intelligent and hold a spiritual connotation to the North American Pacific Northwest natives, the Maritime Archaic people of Canada’s Newfoundland and to the Siberian Yupik culture of Russia. Their organized hunting techniques resemble tactics used by packs of wolves on land, which is why orcas are sometimes called the “wolves of the sea.”