The North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission


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Other Human Impacts

Climate Impacts

In some areas, common minke whales appear to be extending their summer range northward. There have been recent sightings of common minke whales in areas of Arctic Canada where they were not previously known by local residents (Higdon and Ferguson 2011), and an increase in takes in northern communities of West Greenland (NAMMCO 2012b). Recent Norwegian surveys in the Northeast also suggest a distributional shift to the north. These changes are likely in response to shifts in prey distribution, which themselves may be due to a warming marine climate in the area. For the Central Atlantic stock, in recent years pronounced changes have occurred in oceanographic conditions and relative distribution and abundance of several species of fish (including sandeel and capelin) and seabirds in Icelandic waters. Such changes in the distribution of important prey species would be expected to affect the distribution of common minke whales. Also, if ocean currents and water temperature influence whale migration, feeding, breeding, and calving site selection, any changes in these factors could render currently used habitat unsuitable.


Common minke whales may be affected by noise related to human activities such as shipping and resource development (e.g., seismic, drilling). Noise in the environment may interfere with the whale's low-frequency sounds used to communicate with each other (NOAA).

Vessel Strikes

Common minke whales, similar to fin whales, sometimes feed at the surface of the water, making them susceptible to being struck by ships. There are few reports of collisions with common minke whales, however. It is unknown whether this is because they are not struck, or because they are relatively small and therefore the vessel may be unaware that they have struck a common minke whale   


Minke whales may be taken occasionally as by-catch in fishing nets and other gear but it is not considered to have a large impact on their population, especially in the North Atlantic. There are very few reports of by-catch in the reports of the ICES Working Group on By-catch of Protected Species (WGBYC) for the period 2008-2012 (ICES WGBYC 2010-2014).