Mammal Species of the World's Boreal Forests


Megaptera novaeangliae
Humpback Whale


Distinguishing Features - Length: 16.2 m. A powerful whale with rapidly narrowing body to tail. Colouration: mostly black, belly sometimes white, flippers and underside of flukes nearly all white, baleen plates black with black or olive-black bristle. Top of head and lower jaw with string of fleshy knobs randomly distributed; paired blowholes on top of head; distinctive, rounded projection on tip of lower jaw. Flippers: very long, front edges scalloped. Dorsal fin: small, variably shaped, placed on small hump slightly more than two-thirds of way back from head. Flukes: deeply notched, concave, rear edges scalloped. Blow: wide and balloon-shaped.

Humpback Whale Habitat

Migratory. In Atlantic from northern Iceland and western Greenland south to West Indies, including Gulf of Mexico. In Pacific from Bering Sea to Mexico; along coast; usually on continental shelf or island banks; sometimes in open seas.


Primarily krill and small schooling fishes.


Humpbacks occasionally leap clear of the water and may be seen slapping their flukes or a flipper on the surface.

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