Minke Whales in San Diego

Balaenoptera acutorostrata scammoni

In San Diego, Minke whales are one of the resident whale species that can observed throughout the year in southern California. Minke whales are the smallest of the baleen whale species we observe on our San Diego dolphin and whale watching tours. We typically encounter Minke whales reasonably close to shore. For up to date information follow us on Instagram and Facebook for our daily sightings reports.

Minke Whale Info

Description – Minke whales are the smallest of the rorqual whales we encounter, reaching just 35 feet and weighing 20,000 pounds. They have a dorsally dark, slender body with a light colored chevron behind the head, and a white stripe on their pectoral fins. The dorsal fin is tall and falcate, the rostrum is short and triangular. The tail fin is not raised when diving.

Range – Minke whales can be found throughout all the worlds oceans. There are several different sub-species of Minke whales divided by range. The population off of California are recognized as Balaenoptera acutorostrata scammoni with NOAA currently evaluating their stock to be over 600 whales.

Behavior – Minke whales tend to be solitary animals, although we have encountered groups of 2-3. They tend to be less demonstrative or acrobatic, although they occasionally become very interested in the boat, following and making close passes. As a member of the rorqual whales they have an expandable throat and baleen. They side lunge to feed on a range of prey items; krill, small schooling fish, even some larger fish.


The Minke whales along the California coast are threatened by entanglement in drift and gill nets. Additionally, Minke whales have been struck and killed by commercial boat traffic along coastal California.

Noise pollution, habitat degradation and changing ocean conditions from global warming compound the threats Minke whales face.

Worldwide there are countries that actively hunt and kill Minke whales. Namely; Greenland, Norway and Japan.