Interesting Humpback Whale Facts Kids Might Want To Know
The humpback whale (megaptera novaeangliae) is a species of baleen whale which means they don’t have teeth, baleen which is made from keratin which is the same stuff that our fingernails and hair are made out of.
They are a migratory species of massive underwater mammals that are born 1 ton in weight (2,000 pounds) and known for making the longest migration journeys estimated to be at a 16,000 miles in a single trip.
The Humpback Whale’s dorsal (upper) body is primarily a dark shade of grey, with distinct areas of white on their pectoral (flippers) and ventral (under) bellies.
On average, the North Pacific Humpback Whale can live on average for about 50-years (although there have even been some accounts living up to 90-years) while they reach sexual maturity between 5-7 years old.
The humpback has a distinctive body shape, with long pectoral fins and a knobbly head. It is known for breaching and other distinctive surface behaviors, making it popular with whale watchers.
These mammals feed on crustaceans another word for krill they also eat plankton and small fish. They consume up to 3,000 pounds of it a day, isn’t that amazing!
They typically grow to weigh an average weight of 40 tons, that’s 80,000 pounds and can grow anywhere from 25 feet to 45 feet while females have been known to grow up to 52 feet in length which is huge!
In the month of November to May which is the usual humpback whale season in Hawaii. Humpback whales migrate or move around in groups called “stocks”. There are 3 separate populations that make up the entire population of North Pacific Humpback Whales.
- There’s the California, Oregon, and Washington stock that migrates from British Columbia to Central America waters.
- The Western North Pacific stock migrates from the Alaskan Kodiak Archipelago to Japan waters
- Finally, there’s the Central North Pacific stock, migrate between Alaskan waters and the Hawaiian Islands.
Though humpback whales migrate for one reason they are able to accomplish two goals. Because their journeys are so far apart when they leave cold waters to mate in warmer waters their food is able to replenish by the time the whales return. Humpbacks fast which means that they “don’t eat” the entire time during a mating season where they also give birth to their offspring.
The males humpbacks produce a complex song lasting anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes, which they repeat for hours at a time with the longest recording lasting for 22 hours of a single song. Its not fully clear on the purpose of these songs that can be heard up to 12 miles away but it is speculated that it may have a role in mating while others speculate that this is how they communicate with other whales and navigate in the ocean.
Ever since the early 1970‘s, the North Pacific Humpback Whales have had to be under protection by a variety of national and international agreements.
- The Endangered Species Act of 1973 by the NOAA (National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration)
- The Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna And Flora Treaty (CITES) of 1973
- The Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 (MMPA)
…Were the main U.S. agreements put into action.
Humpback Whales can no longer be corralled, poached, harassed, fished or traded between countries; whales cannot be “owned” by any governmental entity, and their preservation relies upon international effort due to their migratory habits. With over 180-countries and nations agreeing to work together to conserve and protect this species. Along with national and international governmental entities, there are also many United States based nonprofit organizations that focus specifically on North Pacific Humpback Whale protection and conservation. (Conservation Source)
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