In the northern Great Barrier Reef (Australia), a swim-with-whales tourism industry has developed based on the June/July migration of dwarf minke whales. A limited number of reef tourism operators have been granted permits by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to conduct these swims, given strict adherence to a Code of Practice, and that operators report details of all sightings as part of a monitoring program. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is the only place in the world where dwarf minke whales regularly approach boats and divers.
On Dive Report we list whale and dolphin species in our animal calendar, but please be aware that with Minke Whales this does not necessarily mean that you can easily dive with them in the locations listed. We have included them as there is a chance of them being spotted from the boat in transit or between dives, which is still exciting adding to the overall dive trip experience.
Minke Whales are the most abundant baleen whale. Minke whales have a characteristic white band on each flipper, contrasting with its very dark gray top colour. They are two or three different subspecies: the North Atlantic minke whale, the north Pacific minke whale and dwarf minke whale. Minke whales can reach up 6.9 meters long. Females are about 7.4 meters. Both sexes typically weigh about 4–5 tons. Minke whales have a life expectancy of over 20 years.
Minke whales are widely distributed throughout the world, commonly found from the poles to the tropics, but they prefer the open sea. The dwarf minke whale and North Atlantic minke whale undertake synchronized seasonal migrations to feeding areas at their respective poles during spring and to the tropics in the autumn where they overwinter.
Due to their relative abundance minke whales are often the focus of whale-watching cruises setting sail from, for instance, the Isle of Mull in Scotland, County Cork in Ireland and Húsavík in Iceland, and tours that are taken on the east coast of Canada. Scientists from James Cook University and the Museum of Tropical Queensland have worked closely with participating operators and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, researching tourism impacts and implementing management protocols to ensure that these interactions are ecologically sustainable.
More detailed information about Minke Whales can be found here.
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