Species: Megaptera novaeangliae
11 to 18 m (females being larger than males), weighing 24 to 40 tons.
50 to 80 years
Humpback Whales are known for their songs. While we are not yet sure, it is likely that males sing during the breeding season to attract females. Listen to a song extract.
The Humpback Whale is a long-distance migrant. It feeds in cold, polar waters and then begins a migration of several tens of thousands of kilometres to reach its breeding ground in the warm tropical waters of the West Indies in December.
While scientists are not sure, it appears that males sing to attract females. It is this complex and powerful whale song that can be heard from several kilometres underwater.
Following mating, gestation lasts 11 to 12 months, which the female spends feeding in cold waters. She then gives birth, in tropical waters, to a single calf that she will breast-feed for months. She may give birth to another calf 2 to 3 years later.
The Humpback Whale feeds on krill and small shallow-water fish which it filters through its baleen plates. It feeds in polar waters before starting its migration. It needs to build up its strength for the lengthy migration and breeding period, during which it does not feed despite its exertions.
Morphological characteristics for identification at sea
- Head: rather narrow and flattened, covered with tubercules
- Fins: dorsal fin on the hump. Tail flukes of individual shape and colouring, long white flippers
- Spout: balloon-shaped due to its double blowhole
- Swim sequence: before diving, very arched roll of the back, fins and caudal peduncle
- Colouring: dark coat
Listen to Chloé talking about humpback whales.
Click on the link to see the Humpback Whale in 3D on the Sketchfab website:
Did you know?
Apart from humans, who have long hunted it for its meat and blubber, the Humpback Whale's only predator is the Killer Whale, which mainly attacks calves.
Banner photo credit: Dany Moussa / Mon école - ma baleine