Humpback Whale

Megaptera novaeangliae, Borowski, 1781


One of the most energetic whales, due to the spectacular breaching, Lobtailing and flipper-slapping. At a distance, it is distinguished by its unique flukes, by the knobs on the head and by the long flippers. The black and white pigmentation in the lower region of the tail fin allows individuals to be distinguished. The body is large and stocky and the upper part is black or dark grey. The dorsal fin is short, stocky, with a pronounced hump in the front. The flippers are long, white or black. The head is large and relatively rounded. They have a rounded projection near the tip of the lower jaw that seems to increase in size with age. They have 12 to 36 widely spaced throat grooves. They have 270-400 balleen plates on each side. They usually lift the tail fluke which has wavy irregular edges, before a deep dive. The blow is very visible and distinctive because it is bushy and wide in relation to the height (2.5 and 3m).


The calf is born with 1-2 tonnes and 4.5m. Adults can weigh between 25 and 30 tonnes and measure between 11.5-15m in length, and males are slightly smaller than females (1m).
Humpback whales feed on krill and a wide variety of small pelagic fish. They have a wide distribution, but with different seasonal changes. They are observed in the winter in high latitudes, in areas of feeding in cold waters, and in the summer in low latitudes, zones of reproduction in warm waters, migrating thousands of kilometers. Longevity is unknown, but probably around 60 years old.


They show little fear of boats and can be very curious. Lobtailing and flipper- slapping are performed repeatedly. They can lie on their backs or on their sides, with one of their flippers raised. They swim slowly and the dives usually last between 3 to 9 minutes (sometimes up to 45 minutes). In breeding areas, males are well known for making long sounds and being aggressive towards each other when competing for a female. They feed alone or in cooperation with other individuals, swimming quickly towards the clusters of prey. Usually solitary individuals or in small unstable groups (1-3 individuals).

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