Have you ever wondered what sounds minke whales make? Given that they had never been acoustically recorded in the eastern North Pacific, we wondered too. Thanks to a collaboration with University of Victoria  marine mammal acoustics expert Katrina Nikolich and funding from Mountain Equipment Co-op and the North Island Marine Mammal Stewardship Association, our research on this topic is now published! 

Minke whales DO vocalize while off the coast of British Columbia. 

Female minke whale M001 (Rapid) breaching in Cormorant Channel where over 1,500 hours of acoustic recordings were made in the presence of six minke whales. Photo ©Jared Towers, MERS, taken under Marine Mammal License MML-42. 

Spectrogram analysis revealed that the minke whales we studied off northern Vancouver Island occasionally emit very quick and barely audible downsweeps and pulse chains. Sexual segregation, predation risk and acoustic masking (vessel noise) are all proposed as reasons why this small cryptic baleen whale doesn’t have much to say.

Figure 2 from the paper shows spectrogram examples of pulse chain vocalizations that increased in pulse rate, decreased in pulse rate, and remained constant in pulse rate. To attempt to hear these vocalizations check out this link: 

For the full report, please click here. The first 50 downloads are free!

Note that our previous research reveals that rather than there being many minke whales off NE Vancouver Island, it’s the same individuals over and over again. 

Abstract: Nikolich and Towers 2018. Click the image to download the full paper. 
The first 50 pdf downloads at this link are free!. After that please contact us for reprints or purchase 24 hour access for $50 USD

MERS Minke Whale Research Papers: 

Keep up to date

News & Blog
MERS current catalogue photo for Cirque

April 17, 2024

Whale Mystery Solved – Cirque

Whale ID mystery SOLVED!Confirmed after 7 years – Cirque IS Glacier’s calf! How this unfolded: On January 11th, 2017, friend of…

2023 Annual Report 1

December 19, 2023

2023 MERS Annual Report

As 2023 comes to a close, we want to report out about our achievements this year. Our 2023 Annual Report highlights some…