Humpback Whale

Photo: Shutterstock

Humpback Whale

Go Back

What do they look like?

Humpback Whales – 40 tons of majestic singing and aerial acrobatics.

Humpback Whales are highly social and intelligent mammals. At 14 to 18 metres long and nearly 40 tons, they are the fifth largest animal on earth. They breathe air, have hair on their bodies, and give birth to live young which suckle from their mothers.

Where are they found?

Humpbacks are renowned for long distance travel and are a

regular sight close to shore in Australian waters, along the east

and west coasts, as they reach their breeding areas from May

to August.

Fast facts:

  1. Humpbacks get their name from the humped area of blubber close to their dorsal fin that is accentuated by the arching of their backs when diving.
  2. A healthy Humpback Whale can live up to 50 years.
  3.  

Humpback Whale

Humpback Whales – 40 tons of majestic singing and aerial acrobatics.

The Humpback Whale is our biggest backyard buddy.

Humpback Whales love:

• Breaching – Humpbacks are the most acrobatic of all the big

whales and love making spectacular leaps out of the water

and falling backwards making a very loud sound as they hit!

They can breach as many as 30 times in a row.

• Singing – during breeding season the males ‘sing’ long,

complex ‘mating songs’ to attract the females. They can sing

for 24 hours and can be heard hundreds of kilometres away.

Each song is different, lasting about 20 minutes.

But they don’t like:

• Collisions with marine traffic– a strike can be fatal.

• Fishing nets, traps and long-lines – if they get caught or

tangled in these, it can lead to a long slow death.

• Overfishing – leading to shortages in food supplies.

Humpback Whales are highly social and intelligent mammals.

At 14 to 18 metres long and nearly 40 tons, they are the fifth

largest animal on earth. They breathe air, have hair on their bodies,

and give birth to live young which suckle from their mothers.

Humpbacks are renowned for long distance travel and are a

regular sight close to shore in Australian waters, along the east

and west coasts, as they reach their breeding areas from May

to August.

Instead of teeth they have baleen bristles and eat about 1.5 tons

a day of krill and small fish. One of their hunting techniques is

bubble net fishing. This involves a group of humpback whales

swimming around their prey and blowing bubbles which herds

the fish into a tight ball. After capturing a mouth full of the small

fish the humpback pushes the water out of its mouth using its

tongue and swallows the remaining feast.

You can make your neighbourhood friendlier for

Humpback Whales

Although whales don’t visit our backyards, they need our help to

keep their ocean habitat, clean, healthy and safe.

All whales are experiencing threats from pollution and overfishing.

Chemical pollution from oil and other toxic chemicals,

poisons their food supply and overfishing in whale migratory

grounds leads to food shortages.

That’s why the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife is running

Backyard Buddies— to give you tips to help.

Be a buddy to the Humpback Whale

Try to:

• look for and buy MSC accredited sustainable

fish and fish products.

• support action to protect coastal water quality.

• keep from discarding fishing gear, debris or other rubbish,

(particularly plastic) into the ocean.

Avoid:

• approaching within 100 metres of any whale or within 200

metres of a mother with a calf when boating.

• cutting in front of travelling whales when boating.

• sudden or repeated changes in the speed or direction that

your boat is travelling, if near a whale.

• swimming closer than 30 metres of any whale.

Don’t be surprised if:

• a cloud of spray appears above the surface of the water,

which happens when whales exhale air thorough their blowhole.

Keep an eye out for this when whale spotting.

• you also see a long flipper standing out of the water.

Whales sometimes like to swim on their sides and wave.

Did you know:

• Humpbacks get their name from the humped area of

blubber close to their dorsal fin that is accentuated by the

arching of their backs when diving.

• a healthy Humpback Whale can live up to 50 years.

Print this page