HUMPBACK WHALE

TAXONOMY

  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Kingdom: Animal
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Cetacea
  • Suborder: Mysticeti
  • Family: Balaenopteridae
  • Genus: Megaptera (Great Wing)
  • Species: M. Novacangliae
  • Group: Mammal
  • Megaptera Novaeangliae

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION

Humpback whales can grow up to 62 feet[19 meters] long. Males are smaller than the females, so the males are 40-48 feet and the females can be 45-50 feet long. Babies can be 4.5-5 meters long. All humpbacks weigh 25-40 tons. At birth , their young can Weigh 1/2-2 tons. On the upper side of its dorsal fin is a black area. On the under side of humpback is an area of black and white. That area extends down to the flukes. Humpbacks are distinctive to other whales. The humpbacks flippers can be all white or all black. When viewing from above, the blowhole of a humpback is broad and rounded. The humpbacks blowholes are paired from their family. Its blowhole is on the midline of its head. Their can be 20-35 throat grooves on a humpback.

They extend slightly beyond their navel. Its dorsal fin has a white tissue color on its tip, which is most likely the males. The blow is raised on a small platform of blubber. On the front edge of their flippers are bumps called barnacles. Its body is a stocky, barrel-shape. The blow can be up to 20 feet high. Their flippers are 12-15 feet long and can be 1/3 to 1/4 of their body length. Their baleen is a darkish color, and there are about 300 plates of baleen on each side of their mouth. Their flukes are large, notched and have irregularly shaped trailing edge.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

When the calf has been born, the parents forget themselves and concentrates on the calf. Sometimes other males fight for the mother and the calf. Females will sometimes interfere in the fight and get wounded. In the fight, sometimes the males may bleed or get scars on their dorsal fin. During the mating, they sometimes have partners. To call other females, the males make sounds. These sounds also are for displaying territorial grounds. To the males, the mating cycle may take 1 year. To the females, it could take 2-8 years for the mating cycle. It is very rare for whales to have two eggs. One time, their was a record of 6 eggs. It takes 10-16 months until the birth of the calf. Sometimes unexpected, the largest whales may have a shorter time, or the other way around. One time, it took a blue whale only 12 months. Sometimes belugas and narwhals may take 14-15 months. At birth the temperature will change to 37 degrees. Whales birth occurs rapidly. Baleen whales are always born head first. After birth, the calf immediately starts to wean.

Distrubution

Humpbacks are distributed creatures. Humpbacks are found in all of the four oceans of the world. Most pods of humpbacks migrate the same route each year back to there birth place. Humpbacks don’t cross the equator when migrating their North- South or South- North migration route. theese whales travel thousands of kilometers in there yearley migration route. Each ocean of the four, has a warm breeding area.

Humpbacks are baleen whales so they eat krill and other tiny sea cratures. In the North Pacific and Atlantic is where the best stocks of krill are and where humpbacks are feeding on theese stocks of krill. These places are one of the four places that humpbacks go to feed like India, Antartic.

When feeding, humpbacks blow a bubble, the bubble traps the krill. As there comming up to the surface they open their mouth. By doing this they glop the water filled with krill. Thats where the baleen comes in helpful. They use air from their lungs to push the water through their baleen They loose the water but not the krill. When feeding they feed within about 50 meeters of the surface.

Relationship to Humans

People hunt the whales for their coats and also for some makeup. Humpbackshave thick blubber to keep them warm and their blibber also helps them breathe. Humans use whales foe oil. There are laws in states where you can not hunt whales. In China it has the most population of hunting whales, you can hunt up to three days of hunting whales in China. All people feel sorry for whales that get captured by humans. I bet they the nets and get taken away. I bet they have to find a new home for the whales where they live and swim, it goes up to 20-30 feet deep in the water and there is a underground place where you could watch the whales swim and do their tricks and deep underwater dives. The whales cannot harm unless you bang on the glass. Dolphins and whales are harmless unless you try to bug them if you bother them he will try to break the glass and get out and kill himself now that is not good for them beacuse then you have to pay for damage. THere is a company the trys to help the dolphins and whales it is called world wide foundation it tries to save money. It buys food and it’s shelter. I hope one day they will make a big for hunting whales like a fine for 1,000 dollars.

BEHAVIOR

All whales like to play. They like to play especially when they are small. Playing helps them learn. It helps them learn how to swim and to swim faster. The humpbacks like to play lots of games. They race boats as one of their games. They also like taking big dives. When you go on a whale watch, you won’t see them because they are not by the coast. Humpback whales are not fish they are mammals. They have to come up for air like us. When they come up for air, their is a big blow. Five minutes later, they come up again. If they take a deep dive it will take them up to 10 minutes to come back up. When the humpbacks come up for air the water blows up high up in the sky. The water pops up to 40 feet in the air. Humpback whales make sounds. Well, all whales make sounds. Each kind of whale makes a different sound. It’s very hard for the humpback whale to make a sound. The whales always make sounds. The humpback whale have to force air through their vocal cords in the larynx and this vibrates to make a sound. I think the sound is very loud. The humpbacks get into groups. They get into small groups and also into big groups. The sing together and only the male whales could sing.

NATURAL HISTORY

Humpback whales live for a long time. Their lifespan is long. The humpbacks live 45-48 years unless they are killed early. There is not many whales living. The whales are most endangered they are about to be but they invented the new law. The law was that no one can kill whales. So now it’s illegal to kill a whale or dolphin. There is not that many humpback whales. There were a lot more humpbacks in the world than now. There are 9,000 humpback whales in the world. There are probably more because of the new born whales.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Rowland, Della. “Whales and Dolphins.” 1991.
  • Martin, Anthony R.D.R. “The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Whales and Dolphins.” Portland House, New York 1990.
  • The World Book Encyclopedia 1996 : New York.
  • Humpback Whale University Press New England 1985.

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