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Humpback Whale
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Quick Facts
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Cetacea
Family: Balaenopteridae
Genus: Megaptera
Species: novaeangliae

Length: 540 - 600 inches
Weight: 50000 - 80000 lbs
Gestation: 365 days
Offspring: 1

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Humpback Whale

Megaptera novaeangliae

The humpback whale is usually black on its dorsalWhat does dorsal mean? surface and a mottled white and black on its ventralWhat does ventral mean?. Humpback whales are not as streamlined as other rorqual whales and rounded body that tapers down to its flukesWhat does flukes mean?. The head of the humpback whale is distinctive being very broad and rounded from above and slim in profile. The top of a humpback whale's head and its lower jaw are covered with small bumps, each containing a stiff hair. It is thought that these hairs provide the whale with a sense of touch. The humpback whale also has 20 to 30 ventral grooves that extend from the lower jaw to the navel. These grooves expand during feeding and allow the whale to take in more water. The flippers of the humpback whale are very long (as much as 1/3 the length of its body.) The leading edge of its flippers is very rough. The flukeWhat does fluke mean? can be as large as 18 feet across and is serrated and pointed at the tips.

Humpback whales are filter feeders and primarily eat krill. They will also eat crustaceans and small fish that they are able to filter out of the water. Humpback whales eat up to 1 and 1/2 tons of food each day.

Humpback whales are found all over the world. They are migratory and spend the summers in polar waters and the winters in waters that are more temperateWhat does temperate mean?.

Other than man, the primary predatorWhat does predator mean? of the humpback whale is the killer whale (orca).

Humpback whales are very active and acrobatic swimmers. They leap out of the water, slap the water with their flukesWhat does flukes mean?, and do underwater acrobatics like rolls and swimming upside down. They also like to sing. The humpback whale songs are very complex and last from 15 to 20 minutes. The song itself is common to a particular group. All North American Atlantic humpback whales sing the same song but that is different from the song the North American Pacific population sings. Also, these songs change slightly throughout the year. The singers are all males and it is thought that these songs have something to do with mating. Humpback whales tend to travel in large, loose groups and congregate in breeding and feeding areas. However, the bonds between groups are not strong. The strongest bond is that between a mother and her calf.

Young humpback whales are approximately 15 feet long at birth and weigh about 1 ton. They nurse frequently until they are one year old. At that time, they are weanedWhat does weaned mean? to solid food.

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