Baleen Whales

Baleen whales (Mysticetes)



  Balaenoptera acutorostrata

Balaenoptera acutorostrata

“Did you know that minke whales can produce a variety of weird sounds, such as thumps, pulse trains, boing sounds and laser gun sounds called the Star Wars call ”

Size: 2.4-3 m (8-10 ft)

Weight: 180 - 350 kg (400-770 lb)

Diet: Mostly cod and haddock, also capelin, herring, sandeels and pollock

The minke whale is a baleen whale that belongs to the rorqual family and is its smallest member. Other rorquals are e.g. the blue whale, the fin whale and the humpback whale. The minke whale is one of the most common whales spotted off the coast of Iceland and can be seen near the coast all year round. Its Latin name, acutorostrata, refers to its very narrow or pointed snout, as acuto means sharp and rostrata (or rostrum) means snout or beak. The narrow snout and streamlined body make it easy for the minke to slice through the water and achieve considerable speeds when swimming through the deep. When minke whales surface from diving, the first evidence of their presence is often the narrow snout breaking the surface. The dorsal fin is fairly high and curves backward, making it easy to recognize this whale at sea. The shape of the dorsal fin along with scars and notches on it, make it possible for whale experts to recognize individual animals. Minke whales in Icelandic waters have a characteristic white band across their pectoral fins, a characteristic unique to North Atlantic minke whales. 



  Megaptera novaeangliae

Megaptera novaeangliae

“Did you know that male humpback whales sing beautiful songs during the breeding season that can last for hours”

Size: Females = 17-18 m (56-59 ft) and Males = 16 m (52 ft)

Weight: 40 tonnes

Diet: Primarily sandeels, capelin, herring and krill.

Humpback whales are large baleen whales belonging to the rorqual family. They are classified into a separate genus called Megaptera or “big-winged”. Humpback whales are the only member of this genus, although recent studies have shown that they are most closely related to the fin whale of all other rorquals. Their most defining characteristics are their enormously long pectoral fins as well as the fact they are stockier in shape than other rorquals and have a relatively large head and broad tail. Humpback whales have charmed whale-watchers throughout the world, as they are extremely curious about seafarers and frequently perform aerial displays such as breaching and slapping the water with their fins and tails.



  Balaenoptera physalus

Balaenoptera physalus

“Did you know that fin whales are among the fastest swimming whales in the ocean”

Size: Females = 23-26 m (75-85 ft) and Males = 21 m (69 ft)

Weight: Females = 75-78 tonnes and Males = 62 tonnes

Diet: Mainly on various types of zooplankton but occationally on small schooling fish such as capelin, sandeels, mackerel and squid

Fin whales are baleen whales of the rorqual family and are the second largest mammals to have ever lived on Earth, second only to the closely
related blue whale. Fin whales can grow to up to 26 m in length and weigh around 78 tonnes. Fin whales are quite common in the waters
around Iceland during the summer and are one of two species of whale hunted for commercial purposes in these waters, the second being the
minke whale. Fin whales are very streamlined and have a distinctive narrow snout that makes it easier for them to slice through the water.
This body shape allows the whales to achieve great swimming speeds, but they are one of the fastest species in the ocean. These giants occasionally wander into Faxaflói bay, but their more common feeding grounds are found south off the Reykjanes peninsula and west off Faxaflói bay.


  Balaenoptera musculus

Balaenoptera musculus