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Humpback whale

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Humpback whale
Size comparison against an average human
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Subclass: Eutheria
Order: Cetacea
Suborder: Mysticeti
Family: Balaenopteridae
Genus: Megaptera
Gray, 1846
Species: M. novaeangliae
Binomial name
Megaptera novaeangliae
Borowski, 1781
Humpback whale range

A humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) is a large baleen whale with long flippers and a knobbly head. They can be found in every ocean.[2]

They can grow to 15–16 m (49–52 ft) long and weigh up to 40 metric tons.

Life history

Humpback whales can live up to 45 years. [3] They migrate between the places they feed in the winter and the places they give birth in the summer. They usually live alone.


Bubble Net Feeding 2.jpg

Humpback whales eat krill and small fish, for example herring, capelin, and sand lance. They scoop up their food in their large mouths. Sometimes they round up their prey by swimming in tight circles and blowing curtains of bubbles around them. They often hunt in small groups, called pods.

Whale song

The male whale is known to sing for up to 22 hours at a time. Because whales do not have vocal chords, they make songs by forcing air through their nasal passages. Every male has a different song. We don't yet know why they sing, it might be to call a female or scare away other males. The songs are made up of a pattern of low notes repeated over a period of hours or days. The whales slowly change their songs over a period of years.

Other sounds

Both the male and female humpback whales make other sounds, such as moans and grunts, to communicate with each other.


  1. Cetacean Specialist Group (1996). Megaptera novaeangliae. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 11 May 2006. Database entry includes a lengthy justification of why this species is vulnerable
  2. Reilly, S.B., Bannister, J.L., Best, P.B., Brown, M., Brownell Jr., R.L., Butterworth, D.S., Clapham, P.J., Cooke, J., Donovan, G.P., Urbán, J. & Zerbini, A.N. (2008). "Megaptera novaeangliae". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 18 January 2013.
  3. Chapham, Phillip J.; Mead, James G. (1999). "Megaptera novaeangliae". Mammalian Species 604: 1–9.