Humpback Whales: Feeding, Breeding, Lifespan, Migration, Threats, And A Lot More!


Humpback Whales are one of the most enormous creatures, like around the size of a bus. The scientific name of the Humpback whales is the Megaptera Novaeangliae, which means the large-winged of New England. These whales were given the common name due to the shape of their dorsal or back fin. Moreover, the way they look when the animal is diving, had a great impact on its name. The ‘large-winged’ is defined as the long, white and wing-like flippers, which are often as long as 1/3 of the full body length of the animal. When it comes to the color, they are black or grey in color, except for flippers, chest and belly, and sometimes, the base of the tail flukes.

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They use the tail flukes as the fingerprints to detect the individual whales. They are considered as unique group of whales because of the wart-like round protuberances or can be called lubricates or bumps. These bumps on the humpback whales occur on the head onward of the blowhole and also on the edges of the flippers. These belong to the baleen family. This is why they are 14 to 35 long when it comes to the throat pleats, which get extended when they take in water during the feeding time.

The average length of the humpback whales that are found in the Northern Hemisphere is 49 to 52 feet or can say 15 to 16 m. while on the other hand, the humpbacks found in the Southern Hemisphere reach the length of the 60 feet or 18 m. it is also important to know that female humpback whales are normally larger than the male ones. A mature adult can weigh up to 35 to 50 tons as an average.

Know the range of the humpback whales 

From the range term, it is defined as the habitat of a humpback whale. These types of whales are found in all oceans to the boundaries of the polar ice. Normally, they have a tendency to follow definite migration paths from their feeding grounds in the summer to warmer sea waters in the winter months. It is likely to see that there are three unique populations of the humpback whales that do not communicate with one another. 
These are:
  •          In the North Pacific
  •        In the North Atlantic
  •          In the Southern Hemisphere or south of the equator


In the North Pacific area, where their inhabitants reach 15000 humpback whales feed in the summer months along the shore from California to Alaska. During the winter season, these whales travel to upbringing grounds off of Hawaii, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Japan. On the other side, the populace in California travels to Costa Rica and Mexico, while the population in the Alaska travels to Hawaii.

How do humpback whales behave?

These big whales are well-known for their acrobatic behavior. Acrobatic humpback whales   normally jump out of the water, slap the water with the use of their flukes and flippers, and hit each other. According to the scientists, it is to be believed that these kinds of activities seem to be the form of the communication. The reason is that while performing these activities, they create a big deal of noise that can be heard at time-consuming distances under water. When it comes to the swimming patterns, they swim in pods or groups of up to a dozen or more at calving grounds. On the other hand, they move in smaller groups that are up to three to four during the process of the migration. Contrasting to other groups of baleen whales, thy can frequently be observed feeding cooperatively.

When we talk about the eating style of the humpback whales, the baleen plates are used to strain other types of small fish like herring, plankton, as well as the krill out of the water. In fact, their 270-400 baleen plates are dark in color. Each baleen plate is about 2 and a half feet in length. There are different types of feeding methods to be used by the humpback whales. One of the methods of the feeding is the lunge feeding. When this method takes into consideration, the whales plow through concentrated regions of the food with their big mouths open. They swell with the huge quantities of water and food.

Another method is the bubble net feeding, which allows them to blow a ring of bubbles directly from their blowholes, which encounter a school of fish or krill. This feeding method is followed by one or more than one whale. The humpback whales then swim via the ‘net’ with their mouths open mouthed and they take in huge quantities of food.

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These whales are also known to be unique in behavior when it comes to the singing. They are renowned for their haunting vocalizations. These whales possess a rich repertoire, which covers many kinds of octaves. A humpback whale includes frequencies beyond the verge of the human hearing. They sing the songs, particularly sung by humpback males, last as long as twenty minutes. Afterwards, these songs are repeated by them, often with the slight changes. It has also noticed that every year, the song undertakes a number of changes from the year before, however, all males sing the same song. During the singing activity, a humpback whale floats while suspended in the water, and `then head down and comparatively motionless. Sometimes, the humpback male whales also show a lot of other behavioral aspects like aggression, mate attraction, and dominance, all of them belong to the singing.

Discuss the breeding and mating aspects

Female humpback whales give birth every 2 or more years. They experience the pregnancy that lasts for twelve months. The calves nurture for 8 to 11 months. Mother humpback whales and their young whales swim close together, where they often touch one another using their flakes or flippers with what seem to be the gestures of the affection. Female humpback whales nurse their young ones for almost 1 year, but it takes for longer than that for a humpback to reach the complete adulthood. The young ones do not stop developing until they are 10 years old.

Let’s talk about the life cycle of the humpback whales

A humpback whale lives around 45 to 50 years. It means that they will make their annually migration many times. What else occurs during these years? Get ready to know the lifecycle of these whales so that you can come to know about what they do during their entire life:

The baby humpback

Calves are born in warmer seawaters. They have a better chance for existence. When they reach, they have a weight of up to one ton and are 3 to 5 m long. During the first year, they will stay by the side of their mothers. They cherish on the high-fat milk of their mothers for at least five months that can be extended up to one year. If they drink 2 to 10 percent of the high-fat milk daily, then they can grow instantly to 8 or 9 m. furthermore, the female humpback whales also stay with their young ones in hot and protected waters till the development is completed or until the young one is ready to be on their own.

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The growing humpback whales

Once they have grown, they start to travel with other humpbacks in pairs or groups. Prior to the commencement of the mating, their lives comprise of the feeding. These adolescent humpback whales   consume by filter feeding known as the method of feeding by using the baleen plates. Predatory primarily on krill, fish, and plankton, the standard humpback whale take in 2000 to 2500 kg of food every day. The growing humpbacks also initiate the use of the bubble netting, a feeding technique to collect their prey.

Adult humpback whales 

Lastly, when they turn up to complete adults, they are approximately 6 to 10 years of age. During this age, humpback whales   become sexually mature. It means that now, they can start breeding or mating with the male humpback whales. The length of the humpback male whales are 12 to 16m at the reproductive age. Approximately, female humpback whales measure 14 to 15 m, however they may develop as long as 18m.

A male humpback whale performs some beautiful activities to attract the female ones. They display their competence via breaching, singing, blowing bubbles, and occasionally chasing with other male humpback whales. Once a pair of the humpback whales has made a decision to breed, they will start swimming together, and moving in motion such as rolling and diving, which has a great resemblance to a frisky courtship. After a year later, the beautiful baby humpback is born, by the time, the pair of the humpback whales made the long swim to the temperate areas.

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Migration arrays

These big creatures on the earth are known to travel to different locations according to the time of the year. Known for their haunting whale songs and the big size, they can be discovered while traveling throughout all of the major oceans of the world when it comes to the terms of habitat and location. Throughout the summer months, they are found in the colder regions of the globe like Antarctica and Alaska. When the winter months start rolling around and the ice caps have started to form, then we can see these whales to migrate to the locations like the gulf of Maine and Hawaii, these are the places where they like to spend most of the time in breeding and having offspring. Similarly to other baleen whales, they also have two major seasons, one of them is the feeding season, and another one is the mating season.
  •          Feeding season or the summer migration
  •         Mating season or the winter migration


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In spite of being able to eat huge quantities of food, these humpback whales   are known to almost completely relinquish eating during the reproducing months and will live majorly off of the fat that is stored in the previous migration season that is the feeding season. After they are finished the mating and having the offspring, they go back to the northern and southern hemispheres, where they can have a chance to add a huge amount of stock of the food and get ready for the next reproducing season.

How they travel?

These mammals follow straight paths for weeks at once. It is not possible that they have a single migratory mechanism, rather than they depend on a combination of the position of the sun, magnetism of the earth, and even star maps to get guidance for their long mile journeys. According to the reports recorded by the scientists, the straight journey of the humpback whales is shown below in the image:

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Factors affecting the place to migrate

To be more specific about the migration patterns along with the feeding and mating season, it is also to be seen that there are some factors that affect the selection of the feeding and reproducing place of these mammals. The factors like the depth of the water and the water temperature, climate changes, and also the abundance of the food.

The humpback whales like to feed in those areas, where they are likely to have a huge supply of the food and also get a chance to mate in warmer climates. In the warmer climates, they may get some safety throughout the mating season when they want or need to breed, give birth to the baby’s humpbacks and feed on their young ones.

If we compare the humpback whales to other animals or mammals, they are acknowledged for migrating great distances throughout the migration periods. These whales tend to travel furthermost as much as 16k miles for every year. This is why the humpback whales have become one of the traveling animals in the world.

On the other side, these mammals have also a great threat from the aspects like commercial whaling and hunting. Although, they are no longer considered greatly endangered species, still they suffer from a number of risks from humans like water pollution, noise pollution, overfishing, and collision with boats.

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