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Humpback Whale

Humpback Whale Facts

Size 39-59 ft (12-18 m)
Speed 10 mph (16 km/h) (short distances), 3-9 mph (5-15 km/h) (long distances)
Weight 25-30 tons
Lifespan 40 years
Food Krill, fish, rarely seagulls
Predators Big sharks, orcas
Habitat Oceans worldwide
Order Whales
Order Baleen whales
Family Rorquals
Scientific name Megaptera novaeangliae
Characteristics Has the longest fins of all animals

Main Characteristics

Humpback whales can be up to 59 feet (18 meters) long. Despite their impressive size they still belong to the smaller species of whales. They usually live near the coast and primarily feed on krill. They gobble up to 1.5 tons (!) of those shrimp-like animals every day!

Humpback Whale Photo: Andrew Sutton/Shutterstock


Why are These Whales Called Humpback Whales?

When jumping out of the water, they hump up their bodies. Then they appear to have a hunchback.



Humpback Whales Are Acrobats

Humpback whales are very active. They like to jump out of the water and turn round before plunging back into the water with a mighty splash – either because they have fun doing this or to get rid of the parasites on their skin. They also love to swim on their backs and lift their fins up in the air.

What Do Humpback Whales Eat?

Humpback whales feed primarily on small shrimp-shaped crustaceans called krill. Because these are mostly found near the coast, the whales often reside there. They devour up to 1.5 tons (!) every day.

How Do Humpback Whales Sleep?

We humans cannot decide whether we would like to breathe or not. It is an inherent reflex. Yet, humpback whales breath intentionally – like some other sea animals as well. When they go asleep, a part of their brain stays awake so that they don’t forget to breathe.

How Deep Do Humpback Whales Dive?

Humpback whales mostly dive for about 15 min., sometimes even for up to 30 min. They can reach depths of about 492-656 feet (150-200 meters).

Why Do Humpback Whales Surface?

Humpback whales like to know what is happening around them. They poke their heads out of the water while the rest of their bodies remain under the water surface. They keep this position for about 30 seconds and have a look around.


Humpback Whale Photo: Martin Prochazkacz/Shutterstock


Humpback Whales are Passionate Singers

Humpback whales are known for the magical songs they perform under water. They can be heard over distances of up to 18.6 miles (30 km). A song can be 10-20 minutes long and be repeated for hours. The animals seem to suffer from earworms (just joking!)!

The impressive thing about their songs is that they follow a kind of “grammar”. This means that the whales combine sounds in many different ways in order to form “sentences”. These add up to multi-faceted songs with verses and melodies. Only the male whales sing. Therefore scientists assume that the whales use their songs to attract females.


Humpback whales reach their adulthood at the age of about five years, but they are not fully grown before they are 15 years old. After about 12 months, a 13 feet (4 meters) long calf is born and stays with its mother for about a year.

Humpback Whale Photo: Achimdiver/Shutterstock

From here you find facts submitted by fan Naima:

Fan Facts by NaimaHumpack Whales Hunt With a Bubble Net

Humpback whales use a special hunting method: They encircle large swarms of fish and krill in groups and belch out air while doing this. This creates a net of bubbles around their prey. The fish do not leave this net and are being eaten by the humpback whales. Bon appetit!

Anatomy and Appearance

Humpback Whales Have Long Fins

The humpback whale’s pectoral fins, which represent the arms and are also called flipper, can be up to 16.4 feet (5 meters) long. Thus, they are the longest fins in the entire world of animals. Yet this is still only one third of the humpback whales’s entire body length.

For comparison: The arms of a human being are about half as long as his entire body. Megaptera, the name of the species, derives from the whale’s large flippers.

Humpback Whale Photo: GUDKOV ANDREY/Shutterstock

Enemies and Threats

Humpback whales hardly have any natural enemies. Yet, humans can hunt those big and slow animals easily down with their harpoons. Whale hunting is largely prohibited, but there are some exceptions and illegal business with whale products. Humpback whales are also endangered by the pollution of the oceans.

Fun Facts

Humpback Whale Migration

During the summer, humpback whales travel from their warm "winter habitats" to colder parts of the oceans, because there is more food available. Only the humpback whales living in the Arabian Sea do not travel.

Humpback Whales Have Fur

Humpback whales have lots of little pimples at their heads and fins. These are not barnacles, but very short hair grows on them. So, furred whales actually exist.

These facts were submitted by fan Naima. Thanks!

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