range: Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Arctic Ocean: Humpback
whales live in polar and tropical waters, particularly those of the
Atlantic, Arctic, and Pacific Oceans. Their range also includes the
waters of the Bering Sea and the waters surrounding Antarctica.
Physical characteristics: Humpbacks
reach up to 16 m in length and 40 t in weight. Females are larger
than the males. The most distinctive external features of humpbacks
are the flipper size and form, fluke coloration and shape, and dorsal
fin shape. Flippers are quite long and can be almost a third of the
body length. They are largely white and have knobs on the leading
edge. The butterfly-shaped tail flukes bear individually distinctive
patterns of gray and white, and have a scalloped trailing edge. There
are 14 to 35 ventral pleats or grooves. The humpback has the greatest
relative blubber thickness for its size of any rorqual, and is usually
second only to the blue whale in absolute thickness. Blubber thickness
varies at different times of the year, and with age and physiological
condition. Baleen plates are usually all black with blackish bristles.
Food habits: Highly mobile and opportunistic
feeders. Will feed on plankton, or fish in large patches or schools.
Because of this, humpbacks are classified as "swallowers"
and not "skimmers." Feeding by humpbacks takes place during
Humpbacks have a polygynous/polygamous mating system, with the males
competing aggressively for access to estrous females. There is no
parental investment on the part of the males. The breeding season
is during the winter, and breeding and calving takes place in tropical
waters. The gestation period lasts 11-11.5 months. The
calves are born in the warm tropical water and subtropical waters
during winder months. When born, the calves are usually 4-5 m long.
whales live in groups. They migrate seasonally from the tropics to
the northern feeding grounds. In the tropics, they are found in dense
aggregations on shallow banks. They are usually deep oceanic migrants
between their feeding and breeding grounds; the vast majority of humpbacks
do not come into coastal waters until they reach the latitudes of
Long Island, New York or, Cape Cod, Massachusetts. They tend to disperse
more widely in deep waters then when in shallow water. Migration
is largely connected with the two functions of feeding and reproduction.
Habitat: The habitat of the humpback whale consists of polar
to tropical waters, including the waters of the Arctic, Atlantic,
and Pacific Oceans, as well as, the waters surrounding Antarctica
and the Bering Strait. During migration, they are found in coastal
and deep oceanic waters.