In our world, there are a number of different whales that populate the oceans, with 40,000 of these magnificent creatures being humpback whales. These beautiful animals were once targeted by hunters as their slow movements made them a lot easier to catch, with now only 35% of the original population surviving. Here we can take a dive into the ocean to discover the secrets these sea mammals hold.
The humpback earns its name from its appearance, as their dorsal fins sit on the hump of their back. These are most obvious when the whales come up to the surface where they can arch their backs out of the water, jump into the air, slap their tails into the water, or poke their heads out. Scientists have been studying the creatures to determine why they do this, but it is merely put down to the fact they are playing!
Their whale-like size
Amazingly, these whales can reach up to 60 foot in length, with the females growing larger than the males. While they can reach lengths that are longer than a school bus, it doesn’t stop there. In fact, their pectoral fins can continue growing until their 16 feet long which means the Humpbacks have the longest arms of any creature in the world, while their tails can be a staggering 18 foot wide. This humongous size comes at a great weight as these animals can weigh over 30 tons!
The humpback whales are famous for their in-depth and complex songs, but when it comes to serenading it’s only the males that put on a performance. In fact, the males use their songs to attract mates from up to 20 miles away in the ocean. Their songs tend to last around 20 minutes, but they can sing them over and over for hours at a time. These sea creatures aren’t born with natural singing voices either; the youngsters have to learn the songs from the other whales in their pod.
Breaching for attention
It isn’t only their singing voices that these whales use to communicate with each other. In fact, when a whale breaches it is jumping high into the air (with the humpback able to jump higher than any other whale in the world) before crashing back into the water. While it all looks like good fun, this is the humpback equivalent of yelling to your friends. When the groups get too far apart, the whales make this loud noise to communicate above all the other sounds of the sea.
Evey humpback whale is identifiable from their unique markings. Their flukes (tails) each have their own set of individual pigmentation and scars they have acquired over the years, meaning scientists can track the animals more efficiently. However, this isn’t all. The whales also have their own designs on their underbellies which are so unique they are just like fingerprints on a human.
Double blow hole trouble
These whales have not one, but two blowholes! But there is a vital reason for having double; each one is for each lung – an organ in their body that grows to about the same size as a car. These creatures don’t breathe involuntarily though as their brain has to tell them to take a breath each time. When humpback whales settle down for a snooze, they only let half of their brain go to sleep as the other half has to stay awake and keep them breathing.
With so many amazing facts about these creatures, there is even more reason to want to take a dive and see them for ourselves. Thankfully plenty of work has been done over the years to help protect these enormous, gentle giants from any further harm. Long live the humpback whale!