The smallest of the rorqual whales, the minke whale is also the most abundant (2). Two species are now recognised, the northern hemisphere minke whale (the subject of this species page) and the southern hemisphere minke whale (Balaenoptera bonaerensis
) (5). Minke whales are slim in shape (2), with a pointed 'dolphin-like' head (2), bearing a double blow-hole (5). The smooth skin is dark grey above, the belly and undersides of the flippers are white, and there is often a white band on the flipper (5) (6). When seen at close quarters, minke whales have variable 'smoky' patterns which have been used to photo-identify individuals (2).