Humpback whales, the scientific name Megaptera novaeangliae, are marine animals found in oceans worldwide. Our animal of the day is famous for its haunting, magical songs. As they are commonly known, these’ whale songs’ travel across long distances and continue for hours on end.
- Humpback whales have dark gray backs, light white bellies, and deep grooves running down their throats. They were first encountered off the coast of New England by European whalers. The tiny hump at the front of their dorsal fins gave them the name ‘humpback.’
- They are powerful swimmers. Using their massive tail fins, called flukes, humpback whales propel themselves in and sometimes out of the water.
- Humpback whales weigh about 40 tons, growing between 15 and 19 meters long. Despite their overly long appearance, these baleen whales are agile and hydrodynamic.
- They feed by gulping large amounts of water. Fringed brushes in their mouths, called baleen plates, trap their food while expelling the water.
- Humpback whales migrate from summer feeding areas each year to warmer breeding areas near the Equator.
- They are omnivores, consuming plankton, krill, and other small fish such as mackerel and sardines.
- Female humpback whales nurse their calves for close to a year.
- Many scientists believe that whale songs are a complex form of communication between male humpback whales to attract female mates.
- Despite their massive size, humpback whales are gentle giants that avoid aggression from humans and other marine animals. They are aware of their surroundings and usually avoid contact with humans and boats.