Humpback whale breaching
Dorsal fin from the side
Top of the head
Tail from the back
Tail from the side
Tail upright showing patterns
Mother and calf underwater
Scientific name: Megaptera novaeangliae
Humpback whales are large whales that can grow to 11 to 18 meters in length. They are black from above and have a white underbelly. A distinguishable feature is that they have, white pectoral fins that are visible through the water. On their head is covered in fleshy tubercles that are only visible-up close. Humpbacks have a visible blow that is dense and bushy, sometimes in a ‘v’ shape, and can be 2.5 to 3 meters tall. They have a deeply notched tail fluke, often with uneven trailing edges and patchy white marks on the underside.
Habitat and distribution
Humpback whales are seen solitary or in pods of 4. They are normally seen and recorded in the summer in coastal waters, including the English Channel, but are also seed in colder waters in the Northern latitudes before heading south to breed in warmer waters. When migrating they cross over deep waters and sometimes enter the Bay of Biscay. It is estimated that there are about 68,000 humpback whales in the world.
Humpback whales are known to come to the surface and frequently breach, slapping their pectoral fins or tail in the sea. They use a number of different feeding techniques such as lunging, bubble netting, and feeding at the sea. Humpback whales are very vocal and can often be heard underwater.
Confusion with other species
Due to their size and their unique disapplies, appearance, and feeding techniques they are rarely confused with other species.
Humpback whales are often hit by large ships, which can cause injury. They also become entangled in discarded or lost fishing gear, which can result in injuries.
Humpback whales make the longest migration every year out of all the mammals, land and water based.