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Although the smallest of the baleen whales, the minke is still an impressively big animal: females are up to 8.5m (28ft) long, and males only a little smaller.
When a minke surfaces, most often all that is seen is a long, arched back, and a sickle-shaped dorsal fin. Closer to, paler grey markings on its side may show as light chevrons between the blowhole and the dorsal fin, and there is a pale band on each flipper. The blow from a minke's double blowhole is inconspicuous and rarely more than 2m (6ft) tall. Minke rarely breach clear of the water, but they may 'spy hop' - rising partly out of the water vertically to check their surroundings, and they regularly approach boats.
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