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Humpback Whale

Megaptera novaeangliae

The Humpback whale is a large marine mammal that can reach lengths of up to 50-60 feet (15-18m) and weigh up to 40-50 tons (36-45 metric tonnes). They have a long, slender body with a hump in front of the dorsal fin, which gives them their name. 

They have a distinctive black and white color pattern, which helps them to blend in with the ocean’s surface and avoid predators. They have long pectoral fins that can be up to one-third of their body length, which they use for maneuvering and hunting. 

Humpback whales are found in oceans worldwide, but they have a distinct seasonal migration pattern. They spend the summer months feeding in cold, high-latitude waters and then migrate to warm, low-latitude waters to breed and give birth during the winter.

They are known to be found in the North Atlantic, the North Pacific, and the Southern Hemisphere.

 Humpback whales are known to feed on a variety of prey, including krill, small fish and squid.

One of the most notable behaviors is their complex vocalizations, known as songs, which are used for communication and mating. These songs can be heard for miles and are different for each population, and change over the years.

They are known for their acrobatic displays, such as breaching, tail slapping and flipper slapping. They are also known for their bubble-net feeding, where they create a ring of bubbles around a school of fish, then swim upward through the bubbles, trapping the fish inside the ring of bubbles before they swallow them.

Humpback whales also exhibit a behavior known as “mugging”, where they approach boats and other vessels closely and repeatedly, seemingly out of curiosity.

They also have been observed exhibiting altruistic behavior, such as defending other animals from predators. This behavior has been observed in several instances where humpback whales have come to the aid of animals such as seals, dolphins and even other whale species, by chasing off predators or shielding them from danger with their body.

Humpback whales were hunted to the brink of extinction in the 19th and 20th centuries due to commercial whaling. However, due to conservation efforts, their populations have recovered significantly in recent years.

Currently, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies humpback whales as “Least Concern” globally. However, some populations of humpback whales are still considered endangered. For example, the North Atlantic population is still considered endangered by the IUCN, and the North Pacific population is considered “Near Threatened”.

It is worth noting that even though humpback whale populations are recovering, they are still facing threats such as vessel strikes, entanglement in fishing gear, and pollution. Climate change and ocean acidification also pose threats to their habitat and food sources. 

Additionally, over-tourism in some areas can also have negative impacts on the whales and their habitat. Conservation efforts are still necessary to ensure their continued recovery and long-term survival.

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Photo by Mike Doherty on Unsplash
Humpback Whale Photo
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Humpback Whale photo
Photo by Gabriel Dizzi on Unsplash