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Flensburg Fjord: SeaHelp discovers minke whale and provides for salvage

SeaHelp Flensburg Fjord: Recovery of minke whale with rescue boat
© Heiko Thomsen | Fö

On October 14, René Haar, skipper of a SeaHelp response boat / Baltic Sea in the Flensburg Förde discovered a “large marine mammal”. The then surprisingly turned out to be a 400-kilogram minke whale.

The minke whale, minke whale or minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata), in demarcation to the southern minke whale (B. bonaerensis) also called northern minke whale, a species of rorquals, is normally found in all major oceans, most often encountered in the North Atlantic and North Pacific.

This flipper had apparently blurred: SeaHelp operations manager / Baltic Sea René Haar spotted it last Saturday morning at the height of the sewage treatment plant at Kielseng in the Flensburg Förde, as already reported by on Oct. 14.

Minke whales are considered fast swimmers; unlike other rorquals, they are very curious and also approach ships

Minke whales are considered fast swimmers; like dolphins, they can jump completely out of the water and, unlike other rorquals, they are curious and approach ships. This could have been the Förde whale’s undoing, because when René Haar approached the animal with his rescue boat, he found that the marine mammal had died.

“On Saturday morning around 8 o’clock called me the “seal hunter” responsible for Flensburg, and reported, “that he has a message about a dead whale on the shore Kielseng in Flensburg”, says head of operations René Haar. The so-called “seal hunter” is not a hunter in the conventional sense, but rather a water ranger commissioned by the state of Schleswig-Holstein, which cares for the preservation and care of marine mammals.

The dead marine mammal turned out to be, at first glance, an “approximately 3.5 to 4 meter long minke whale”

After a brief joint search, the two actually discovered the animal at the specified location, which at first glance turned out to be an “approximately 3.5 to 4 meter long minke whale”that was obviously no longer alive, Haar said.

While the water ranger had taken care of the further procedure – the decision on what to do with such an animal lies, among others, with the ITAW Büsum of the University of Hanover – he had already gone to another mission at the association Missionförde, Haar continued.

“Then came the “go” to tow the animal”, says René Haar. The small whale was pulled by one of his SeaHelp response boats to the nearest crane at Flensburger Yachtservice, from where it was then transported by truck to Büsum. Due to the special location situation in Leegerwall of the coast at a stone pier, Haar had sent one of its skippers with a suitable workboat for this task.



For a baleen whale, the minke whale is quite small, ranging from 6.8 to 9.8 meters in length

For a baleen whale, the minke whale is quite small, ranging from 6.8 to 9.8 meters in length – only the minke right whale is smaller. Females can grow up to half a meter longer than males. The body is slender and streamlined, and the fin, which sits on the rear third of the body, is relatively high and sickle-shaped.

The minke whale’s snout is pointed, and the upper jaw is triangular when viewed from above, bearing a small rostrum in the middle. About 300 yellowish baleen sit in the upper jaw. The number of throat furrows, which give the whales their name, is between 50 and 70. The back is dark gray-brown or almost black, the sides blue-gray, the belly lighter. The transition between the dark back and the sides of the body is wavy and blurred.

Unlike harbor porpoises, minke whales tend to be the exception in firths along the coast

The animal found in the Förde had a length of about four meters, diver Stephan Thomsen of the Flensburg underwater team estimated, reported the the same day. On the basis of the condition of the animal this would have come afterwards within the last two days into the Förde, where it would have died then presumably on Friday or in the night to Saturday.


SeaHelp Flensburg Förde: Salvage minke whale
© Heiko Thomsen | Fö


Unlike harbor porpoises, minke whales tend to be an exception in the Fördes along the coast, the Fö further reports. These would move in the winter months, however, towards the north, and especially the female animals would also roam into the side arms of the seas in search of young fish as food. The dead whale should be autopsied in the coming days to determine both the sex and the cause of death, it said.

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