Marine Mammal Science & Conservation

Humpback whale

Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)

Group formation: Solitary – gregarious (mother-calf pair/male escort, larger feeding groups)

Size: males 13-14 m,  females 15-16 m, calf 6 m

Weight: males 28 t, females 33 t, calf 2 t

Spout: 3-6 m

Age: 45-100 yrs

Sexual maturity: males 7 yrs, females 5 yrs

Physical maturity: ca. 20 yrs

Gestation: 11-12 mths, with 2-3 yrs in between

Weaning: 6-7 months

Diet: Krill, small schooling fish such as Atlantic herring, Atlantic salmon, capelin, and American sand lance, as well as Atlantic mackerel, pollock, and haddock in the North Atlantic.

Distribution: Worldwide with 4 populations, in the North Atlantic, North Pacific and Southern Oceans

Norway: Migrate from breeding grounds in Cape Verden or the Caribbean to feeding grounds northern Norway and the Barents Sea, first animals arrive in northern Norway end of May and leave latest in February (after feeding on herring).

Population size: global ca. 80.000, heavily exploited (90% reduced)

Conservation Status: Status: Least Concern ver 3.1, Pop. trend: increasing

Threats: Vessel collisions, whaling (Greenland, Japan, Caribbean island Bequia in the nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines), plastic pollution, man-made noise impacts (seismic surveys, military sonar), entanglement in fishing gear, over fishing