Size: Up to 53 feet (16.2 m) long.
Range: In Atlantic Ocean, from Iceland to West Indies and Gulf of Mexico. In Pacific Ocean from Bering sea to southern Mexico.
- Flippers longer than any other whale's, usually 1/3 the length of the body; a series of wart-like bumps called 'tubercules' (actually enlarged sensory hair follicles) on the upper and lower jaw; stocky body; low, knobby dorsal fin, which is variable in shape; 25 - 50 pleats or grooves on the underside of the throat.
The humpback whale is the ocean's great singer. Each year, it changes its song to find a new mate. Besides singing underwater, humpbacks often will announce their presence by leaping out of the water or slapping its surface with their scalloped tails.
Humpback whales migrate seasonally and feed on krill and small schooling fishes. Humpbacks catch the small fish be herding them into "bubble nets," which the whales create by swimming in a circle under the water's surface and releasing air bubbles. The food is then strained through fringed plates called baleen in the whale's mouth instead of teeth. Scientists classify whales as either "baleen" or "toothed." The humpback whale is a baleen whale.