Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Humpback Whale

Megaptera novaeangliae


Fun Facts

    The humpback whale has distinct patterns on the tail flukes used to identify individuals.

    Male humpback whales produce a complex song lasting 10 to 20 minutes.



  The humpback whale is a type of marine mammal that is found both offshore and in coastal waters. Humpback whales occur in all oceans around the world and typically migrate up to 16,000 miles (25,000 kilometres) each year. The body is distinct, with unusually long pectoral fins and a knobby head. One of the larger rorqual species, adults range in length from 39 to 52 feet (12 to 16 meters) and weigh approximately 79,000 pounds (36,000 kilograms). Humpback whales are an acrobatic species known for breaching and slapping the water with its tail and pectorals. Humpback whales feed on krill and small fish. They feed by taking in tons of water, and filtering out the food with its baleen. They have 270 to 400 darkly colored baleen plates on each side of their mouths. Humpbacks also have a diverse range of feeding methods, including the bubble net feeding technique. Humpbacks feed in the summer in cold waters, and migrate to tropical waters to breed and give birth in the winter. During the winter, they fast and live off their fat reserves. They can live up to 48 years. To learn more about humpback whales and their relatives visit the Whales & Dolphins Room and the Courtyard at the Aquarium.