Humpback Whale Facts – Megaptera novaeangliae: Discover the Feeding Methods and Behaviour of These Baleen Whales

Whales along with dolphins and porpoises belong to the order Cetacea. The order is divided into two suborders:

  1. Suborder odontoceti, or toothed whales – dolphins, sperm whales and porpoises
  2. Suborder mysticeti, or baleen whales – rorquals (the largest group of baleen whales), right whales and gray whales

Humpback whales fall under the suborder mysticeti, or baleen whales. They are a blue-black color with some paler areas along the underside, white-edged flippers and a large tail that it slaps against the water’s surface. They are capable of swimming at 27km per hour and can blow a mist of water from their blowholes up to 3 meters high.

Brief Overview of the Humpback Whale

The humpback whale has prominent knobs on its muzzle and their anterior (front) limbs are modified into flippers and most have a dorsal fin and tail flukes. Their dorsal fins, which can be swelled into humps by fat deposits, are often visible on the surface of the water when the whales come up for air.

Flippers are used to swim, protect calves and in surface displays. Humpback whales have the longest pectoral fin of all the whales and it is almost a third as long as their body length. Nostrils are in the form of single or double blowholes on the top of the head and no hair can be seen apart from a few bristles around the muzzle. Upon exhalation it can spray mist up to 3 meters in the air.

Humpback whales can dive to 200 meters depth and stay submerged for up to 30 minutes. They are able to travel at up to 27km per hour if necessary, however, normal traveling speeds are between 4-14km per hour.