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Humpback Whale - Megaptera novaeangliae

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Picture of a Humpback Whale
Humpback Whale Picture

Humpback whales are found in the oceans worldwide and have been protected to some degree since 1963 yet remain threatened in coastal areas where they come into contact with man.

Humpbacks venture to shallow waters to breed but tend to remain in deeper ocean waters most of the time. Humpback whales are dark gray and sometimes black in appearance. Other distinguishing characteristics include a tapering head with small knobby like protrusions and a furrowed throat extending all the way to the belly as the picture below illustrates. Covering about one third of the humpback's body length, the pectoral fins have a white pattern on the underside and may apear to have small but visibly recognizable uneven or jagged looking contour mostly toward the edge of the fins. Humpback tail flukes are rather large and have white marking.

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Humpback Whale - Furrowed Throat - Knobby Protrusions - Breaching

A breeched whale as the picture above depicts is a breathtaking site to observe. When the whale pushes or lifts itself out of the water it is referred to as breaching. This behavior is believed to be for social reasons but also serves to loosen skin parasites. Many believe breaching to be a form of communication or perhaps a signal of some kind since the sound can be heard for many miles.

Humpback whales are unquestionably one of the most vocal whales and their long complex songs are both beautiful and slightly eerie sounding. The singing by humpback whales only happens in solitary males in mating season. It is done mostly to attract female humpbacks and to let other males know they are around. Interestingly these songs may last up to 35 minutes and may be recognizably different from one humpback population to another (considered dialects within these separate humpback populations).

Some raw data size and weight for Humpback Whales:
Length: 36-50 ft.
Weight: 33-44 tons

The population of Humpbacks is only a small fraction of what it was originally. The International Whaling Commission (IWC) provided humpbacks worldwide protection status in 1966 and were considered endangered. Since then, the IWC instituted that all whaling cease and banned in 1985.
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