Humpback Whale

Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)  

Length: 12 – 16 m

Weight: 30 – 50 tonnes

Reaching lengths of around 50ft, Humpback whales are one of the most enigmatic animals on the Planet. It is a unique and humbling experience to come eye to eye with such a creature for its sheer elegance, size and grace cannot be fully appreciated from above water. It is also one of the most acrobatic of the cetaceans performing powerful 'tail-lobbing', 'flipper-slapping' and full breath-taking breaches . 

A humpbacks tail fluke is its personal signature and scientists are able to identify individuals by fluke colour, shape and pattern.  At approximately 15ft wide, it is proudly presented prior to a dive that can reach 200m deep. Also, at around 15ft are the humpback whale's beautiful pectoral fins, the longest of any whale and responsible for its Latin name Megaptera.  

We can easily distinguish which region a humpback is from by the dorsal colour of the pectoral fin: black signifying the Pacific region and white being the Atlantic. During our time in the Silver Bank, Dominican Republic we are grateful for this, as the fins' brilliance makes the whales easier to spot from our inflatable boats and in the tropical waters the white fins appear a truly stunning turquoise blue !

Also 15ft long are the baleen plates of a humpbacks mouth, an evolved means of straining krill and small fish from its feeding grounds in Antarctica and the Arctic. In these feeding areas we can see a plethora of whales, particularly on our whale watching expeditions later in the season in Antarctica when humpbacks are plentiful and approachable.

Contact our Marine Scientist to discuss our whale watching options

Humpbacks are also famous for their whale song. Songs between populations vary enormously and each population's song changes gradually over a period of several years.  Each song lasts typically between 15 - 20 minutes and is then repeated for several hours. Singing is just one means of communication and it can be heard for thousands of miles! Initially only thought to be practiced in the warm breeding grounds, we have taken such recordings with our scientific teams in Antarctica, to everyone's delight.

Once fully nourished, humpbacks of breeding age make one of the longest migrations of any mammal, from feeding grounds to breeding and nursing grounds such as Silver Bank. It is here, in these clear, warm waters that for many years we have been privileged to take guests to swim alongside nursing mothers and playful calves.

Often in the breeding grounds we don't have to use our hydrophone to hear the whales' melancholy song. We can sometimes just float on your back on the water or even just lie in your cabin to hear their famous melody!

Click below to learn about swimming with humpbacks or whale watching with us on location in Antarctica and the Arctic !

  • Humpback Whale feeding in the icy waters of Antarctica
  • Humpback Whale on an Antarctica & South Georgia Voyage
  • Snorkeling with Humpback Whale in the Silver Bank Photo: Charlotte Caffrey (Aqua-Firma)
  • Humpback Whale breaching off the coast of Antarctica
  • Humpback Whale greets Zodiac RIB beside Antarctica iceberg
  • Mother & Calf Humpback Whale Silver Bank Caribbean Dominican Republic
  • Humpback Whale in the Silverbanks - Bjoern Koth
  • Snorkeling Eye to Eye with a Humpback in the Caribbean Photo: Rob Smith
  • Humpback Whale Corkscrews to the Surface in Silver Bank - Rob Smith
  • Humpback Whale spotted at sea in Antarctica
  • Humpback Whale lands a mouthful at sea on an Antarctica Falklands South Georgia Expedition Cruise
  • A Pair of Humpbacks 'blow' at the Arctic sea surface
  • Mother & Calf Humpback Whale at the Silver Bank Photo: Bjoern Koth
  • Male Humpback Whale Breaches dramatically beside our snorkelers at the Silver Bank Photo: Richard Allan
  • Snorkeling with Humpbacks in the Caribbean - Amanda Smith
  • Silverbanks Humpback Snorkeling - Rob Smith
  • Fin Slapping by Male Humpback Whale at the Silver Bank - Michael & Jan Wigley
  • Humpback Spy Hops our snorkelers at the Silver Bank
  • Humpback 'lands' back into the water after breaching - Duncan Young

Why do Humpback Whales Breach?


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