Humpback Whale

Megaptera novaeangliae

Length

40-55 feet (12.2-15.2 m)

Weight

25-40 tons (22,680-36,000 kg)

Distribution

Found in all oceans, most humpback whales follow regular migration routes, spending summers in temperate and polar waters feeding, wintering in tropical waters for mating and calving

Population

30,000-40,000 individuals

Description

The Humpback Whale is a baleen whale and belongs to a group of whales known as the rorquals (includes Blue Whales, Fin Whales, Minke Whales, Sei Whales, etc). They have long throat grooves that expand while the animal is feeding. Humpback Whales have dark gray-black bodies with mottled white bellies. Every humpback whale has a uniquely shaped dorsal fin and an individually identifiable tail-fluke color pattern.

Humpback Whales feed on small shrimp-like creatures called krill and various types of small bait fish. Humpback Whales are known for their acrobatic breaches during which they can launch themselves completely out of the water. While all whales are capable of breaching, Humpback Whales are known for exhibiting this type of surface behavior more frequently than other species. They are also well-known for their unique and beautiful “whale songs” which can travel hundreds of miles.

While most of the Humpback Whales in the Pacific migrate to-and-from Alaska and Hawaii, there is a small population of approximately 2,000 individuals that instead migrates downward along the coast of California toward Baja, Mexico and the Sea of Cortez.