It’s Minke Whale season on the Great Barrier Reef. During June/July there are often seen off the coast of Port Douglas and Cairns as they migrate through the region to warm equatorial waters. Some operators like Silversonic are granted a permit by the Marine Park authority to allow their guests to swim with the whales.
Minke whale is a name given to two species of marine mammal belonging to the Baleen whale family. The name is a partial translation of Norwegian Minkehval, possibly after a Norwegian whaler name Meincke, who mistook a northern Minke whale for a Blue Whale.
The Minke whales are the second smallest Baleen whale; only Pygmy Right Whales are smaller. Females are around 24 feet in maturity and males are smaller at 23 feet. Both weigh around 4 to 5 tons, although some weight may be as much as 10 tons.
The Minke whale is a black/grey/purple colour. Common Minke whales are distinguished from other whales by a white band on each flipper. They typically live for 30 to 50 years.
The whale breathes three to five times at short intervals before ‘deep-diving’ for two to 20 minutes. The maximum swimming speed of Minkes has been estimated at 38 km/h.