HUMPBACK Whale images

 
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Humpback Whale Facts and Photos on this Magnificent, Endangered Whale with a Beautiful Song

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Humpback whales, Megaptera novaeangliae, are baleen whales, one of the most magnificent creatures on earth, and are known for their complex and beautiful songs, and their incredibly long migrations. Humpback whales inhabit open oceans and shallow coastlines, living at the surface. There are three distinct populations, North Pacific, North Atlantic, and Southern oceans, and they are thought to live up to 50 years. Humpback whales are an endangered species.

Humpback whales breed and give birth in warm tropical waters in the winter, and then travel over 3000 miles to cold oceans in the summer, taking nearly three months to complete the journey. In tropical waters they do not feed at all, but live off their fat layers, with young calves feeding from their mothers’ milk. In cold water they eat krill, plankton, and small fish, which they catch, as all baleen whales do, by gulping in large quantities of ocean and expressing it out, catching the food in their baleen plates.

The whale’s song is long and very varied, and has been recorded many times, and although both males and females vocalize, only males have been observed singing the complex songs. The most complex songs are sung in tropical waters, and may be part of a mating ritual. In cold waters they use sound also, but it is thought to be to help locate food sources. Whales within an area sing the same song, which is different from the song of whales from a different area.

Humpback whales can be up to 50 feet long, with the females slightly large than the males. Their coloration can be from almost white to black, and includes mottling. The flukes are deeply notched and have unique white patches which allows individuals to be identified, and can be up to 12 feet wide. The flippers are the largest of any whale, and can be one third of its body length. Humpback whales frequently have barnacles goring on its flippers and head.

The humpback whale does not form permanent social groups; they may travel in large groups but are not bound to each other and will soon disband, except for mothers and calves who remain together. In their summer feeding grounds humpback whales will group together temporarily to cooperate in finding food sources by bubble-net feeding, where members of a pod will form a circle and blow a wall of bubbles to trap the prey into a concentrated mass, which they can then eat. The sounds the whales use in this co-operative hunting are very different from the songs used in tropical waters.

Humpback whales are extremely acrobatic, with many activities, such as lobtailing (slapping the water with its tail), fin slapping, spy hopping, and very high breaches where they often spin around before crashing back into the ocean. They also dive deeply to around 600 feet, and can stay down for between 15 and 30 minutes. Humpback whales breathe through two blowholes on the top of the head, and will spout several times a minute sending spray twelve feet above the water.

Humpback whales have been slaughtered by commercial whalers since the 1600’s. It is estimated that during the 20th century the population was reduced by 90 percent, due to commercial whaling. The International Whaling Commission banned commercial hunting of humpback whales in 1966, to prevent extinction, as the population had shrunk to less than 5000 animals. The population is making a recovery, but many still die from collision with ships and entanglement in fishing nets. Another serious concern is noise pollution, where sonic testing and underwater blasting has caused serious head and ear injuries. Aside from man, the humpback has no real predator, although orcas have occasionally been known to kill some young calves.

Despite worldwide condemnation, Japan continues to keep humpback whales on their kill list under their “scientific whaling program” where they issue their own permits that allow Japan to continue commercial whaling as a “research” activity.

Humpback whales are an endangered species.

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Picture of humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, Hawaii, Pacific Ocean

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Stock photo of humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, double breach, Hawaii, Pacific Ocean

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Image of humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, blowing bubbles, Hawaii, Pacific Ocean

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Photo of humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, southern whale mother and calf, Tonga, South Pacific

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Picture of humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, lobtailing at sunset, Hawaii, Pacific Ocean

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Stock photo of humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, whale and calf, Hawaii, Pacific Ocean. Photo taken under NMFS permit #633

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Image of humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, breaching, Hawaii, Pacific Ocean. Photo taken under NMFS permit #882

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Photo of humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, Alaska, Pacific Ocean

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Picture of humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, peduncle throw showing scars on fluke from teeth of orca, Hawaii, Pacific Ocean. Photo taken under NMFS research permit #882

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Stock photo of humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, whale and calf, Hawaii, Pacific Ocean. Photo taken under NMFS research permit #633

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Image of humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, breaching, Au Au Channel, Lanai, Hawaii, Pacific Ocean

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Photo of humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, fluke, Hawaii, Pacific Ocean. Photo taken under NMFS research permit #633

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Picture of humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, mother and calf, Halepalaoa Landing, Lanai, Hawaii, Pacific Ocean

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Stock photo of humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, breaching, Hawaii, Pacific Ocean. Photo taken under NMFS research permit #587

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Image of humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, whale and calf, Turks & Caicos, Caribbean Sea, Atlantic Ocean

Picture #: 000208

Photo of humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, male (below) courts female (above) by blowing bubbles underneath, Hawaii, Pacific Ocean. Photo taken under NMFS research permit #633

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Picture of humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, spyhopping, Kona, Hawaii, Pacific Ocean. Photo taken under NMFS research permit #587

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Stock photo of humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, note parasitic acorn barnacles under chin, Cornula diaderma, Hawaii, Pacific Ocean

Picture #: 006324

Image of humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, breaching, Tonga, South Pacific Ocean

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Photo of humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, mother, calf, and escort, Hawaii, Pacific Ocean

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