The Whales

humpback whale

Humpback Whales have become, because of their active, acrobatic behavior and “singing”, the best known of all the whales. They can throw themselves completely out of the water, swim on their back with both flippers in the air and often engage in tail and flipper slapping.

Their songs are unique to each area of the ocean and last from 10 to 20 minutes. The songs are repeated continuously for hours at a time, and changes gradually from year to year.  Singing whales are always male, and the songs may be part of mating behavior.  Their feeding, mating and calving grounds are close to shore and this coupled with their slow swimming made them easy prey for early whalers. 

humpback whale 

19" Long x 5" High



It is believed they number about 30,000 to 40,000 or about 30% to 35% of the original numbers.  The shape and color pattern on the humpbacks dorsal fin and flukes (tail) are as individual in each animal as fingerprints are in humans.  This discovery changed the course of cetacean research. “Photo-identification” led to individuals being identified, catalogued, and monitored, which in turn led to information about population sizes, migration, sexual maturity and behavior patterns. 

The flippers of the humpback are very long, between ¼ and 1/3 of the body length with large knobs on the leading edge.  The flukes can be 18 feet (5.5 meters) wide.  Adult males measure 40 to 48 feet (12.2-14.6 meters) long with adult females slightly larger.  At least 3 different species of barnacles are found on the flippers and body of the humpback.




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