HUMPBACK WHALE BIOLOGY
fast facts

Humpback whale

Common name

Humpback whale

Scientific name
Megaptera novaeangliae
Body size
adult female 15 m
adult male 13.5 m
newborn calf 4.2 m
weight 30,000 kg to 48,000 kgwidth of adult fluke: 4.6 m
length of adult flipper: 4 m
Average life expectancy
Unconfirmed average 40-50 years
maximum possibly up to 80 years
Vocal behaviour 
Males sing elaborate structured songs on the breeding grounds. In areas were group feeding is observed (e.g. Southeast Alaska) it is often accompanied by stereotyped feeding calls
Physical characteristics
Black or dark grey except for variable white patches on the underside of the body, flippers and tail flukesvery long flippers (the longest of all cetaceans)a small dorsal fin located on a humpbumps (tubercles) on their head, jaw and flippersindividuals can be identified from fluke markings, allowing them to be studied by scientists
Behavior
Very energetic and show spectacular breaching behavior
Habitat
Humpback whales spend spring, summer and autumn on feeding grounds in temperate or high latitude watersIn the winter months, they travel to lower latitudes where the water is warmer and where they mate and give birth
Distribution
One of the longest annual migrations of any mammalworldwide distribution with two stocks in the North Atlantic Ocean and two stocks in the North Pacific OceanThe western North Atlantic holds the healthiest population of humpbacks
Diet
Tiny shrimp-like crustaceans called euphausiids (you-FOH-sids) known as krillschooling fish such as herring and sand lance
Foraging behavior
Filter feeders-move water through their baleen plates to capture preymay lunge feed or entrap prey using “bubble nets”
Reproduction
Humpback whales reach sexual maturity at approximately five years of agegestation period is roughly 11 to 12 monthscalves nurse for around 10 to 12 months and then leave their motheradult females typically give birth every two to three years to a single calf
Conservation status
Humpback whale (Atlantic): Not at Risk
Humpback whale (Pacific): Special Concern
by Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC)