Facts About Humpback Whales
Humpback whale is a type of whale that can be found in all oceans of the world. These whales can be easily recognized thanks to their size, large flippers and ability to produce beautiful songs. Humpback whales migrate toward the temperate and cold waters for feeding and toward the warm, tropical water for mating and nursing of babies. Number of humpback whales decreased drastically in the first half of 20th century due to excessive hunt. Although they are protected by law since 1966, number of humpback whales is still only 30 percent of the original number.
Only the male whales sing.
Humpback whales are very large animals. They weigh up to 48 tons which equals the weight of 4 adult elephants. Humpback whales reach 40 to 50 feet in length. Females are slightly larger.
Humpback whale songs are audible up to 20 miles away, and each song can be up to 20 minutes in length.
Humpback whales have very large flippers that can reach the length of one third of their body size.
The whales are known to repeat the same song over and over again for hours.
Humpback whales usually have grey or black back and white markings on their bellies. White markings are unique (just like fingerprints), and researchers use them for identification of different individuals.
It takes quite a lot of krill to make up the amount each whale needs on a daily basis – almost 1.5 tons!
Name “humpback” originates from the hump on the back that can be seen every time they perform acrobatics on the water surface.
When it comes to length, the females are actually longer than the males.
Humpback whales are slow swimmers. They usually swim 3-9 miles per hour, but they can reach up to 16.5 miles per hour when they are at danger.
Sometimes males are as much as 10 feet smaller than their female counterparts!
Despite their large size, humpback whales eat one of the smallest animals in the ocean: krill (small crustaceans) and fish.
The tail can be a whopping 18 feet wide.
Humpback whales are filter feeders. They swallow large amount of sea water and filter the food out of it by using baleen plates (which look like a huge comb) attached to their upper and lower jaw.
It’s believed there are about 40,000 existing humpback whales currently in the world.
Humpback whale requires one ton of food per day.
It’s projected that whales living now are less than 35 percent of the world’s original population.
Humpback whales often jump out of the water and splash the water’s surface using the tails and flippers.
They love to jump out of the water – called breaching – and perform acrobatic twirls.
Scientists believe that this behavior plays a role in communication between whales.
They also enjoy poking just their heads out of the water, or slapping their tail around.
Another, more important, type of communication is a song characteristic for male humpback whales. Each population of humpback whales has unique song, which is used to attract females during mating season.
Each baby whale needs about 100 pounds of milk per day to live!
Song of humpback whales can be heard on a distance of 20 miles.
Humpbacks migrate about 16,000 miles in an average season.
Mating of humpback whales usually takes place during the winter or early in the spring, in tropical (warm) oceans.
Humpback whales actually have no teeth!
Pregnancy lasts 12 months and ends up with single baby. Female gives birth every 2 to 3 years.
A humpback whale actually has to think about breathing, unlike humans, who breathe involuntarily. To go to sleep and still breathe, they’ll only shut off half their brain at a time.
Baby usually has 10 to 14 feet in length and can weigh up to one ton at birth. It depends on mother’s milk during the first five to seven months. Milk is rich in fat and enables fast growth of the young whale. Baby drinks 100 pounds of milk per day.
Each whale has a different design that can be found on its underbelly. The white markings are like human fingerprints.
Humpback whales live between 45 and 50 years in the wild.