The smallest of the baleen whales – which include the mighty blue, fin and humpbacked whales – the minke (pronounced mink-ee) is also the commonest, with an estimated population in the North Sea of 10,000. But small is relative and these mammals can reach 10-11m long – an impressive beast to spot from a whale-watching boat.
Most sightings occur along Scotland’s coasts where the whales hunt cod, herring and haddock as well as plankton. They sometimes spyhop – sticking their heads vertically out of the water to look around – as well as leaping (breaching) out of the water. Where to spot them:
1. Mull is a great place to see whales. Hebridean Whales Cruises operate from here.
2. Our production editor Maria recently sighted a minke whale on the crossing from Lewis to St Kilda in the Outer Hebrides, while aboard the MV Cuma.
3. In the North Sea, Whitby Whale Watching offers trips to see minke whales as well as other cetacean species.
Photo credit: Alamy, Science Photo Library