Humpback Whale
Humpback Whale
Range Migratory
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Cetacea
Family Balaenopteridae
Genus Megaptera
Species Megaptera novaeangliae
Conservation Status
Least Concern

The Humpback Whale is a species from the Megaptera genus.Found in oceans and seas around the world, humpback whales typically migrate up to 25,000 kilometres (16,000 mi) each year.


A Humpback whale can easily be identified by its stocky body with an obvious hump and black dorsal coloring. The head and lower jaw are covered with knobs called tubercles, which are actually hair follicles, and are characteristic of the species. The fluked tail, which it lifts above the surface in some dive sequences, has wavy trailing edges. The long black and white tail fin, which can be up to a third of body length, and the pectoral fins have unique patterns, which make individual whales identifiable.


The Humpback social structure is loose-knit. Typically, individuals live alone or in small, transient groups that disband after a few hours. These whales are not excessively social in most cases. Groups may stay together a little longer in summer to forage and feed cooperatively. Longer-term relationships between pairs or small groups, lasting months or even years, have rarely been observed.


Humpbacks feed primarily in summer and live off fat reserves during winter. They feed only rarely and opportunistically in their wintering waters. The humpback is an energetic hunter, taking krill and small schooling fish such as Atlantic herring, Atlantic salmon, capelin, and American sand lance as well as Atlantic mackerel, pollock, and haddock in the North Atlantic.


Females Humpbacks typically breed every two or three years. The gestation period is 11.5 months, yet some individuals have been known to breed in two consecutive years. The peak months for birth are January, February, July, and August. There is usually a 1-2 year period between humpback births. Humpback whales can live up to 48 years.



Humpback whales filmed up close and underwater in Bermuda

Humpback whales filmed up close and underwater in Bermuda

The future for humpback whales - BBC Planet Earth

The future for humpback whales - BBC Planet Earth



  • Humpbacks have the longest fins of any cetacean.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.