Humpbacks (Megaptera novaeangliae) spend their summers feeding far from shore, in the cold waters near the poles. They feed by taking in huge mouthfuls of sea water. Their baleen plates then strain out any fish or krill from the water. Pairs of humpbacks also corral schools of fish by blowing curtains of bubbles around them. The fish will not swim through the bubbles and crowd together as the whales rush up from beneath with their mouths wide open.

As winter approaches, the whales stop feeding and head to warmer, shallow waters near coasts or groups of islands. For example, populations of humpbacks spend the winter near Baja California and the Hawaiian islands. During the winter the whales do not feed; instead they concentrate on reproduction. The males produce songs which are repeated over and over for days on end. The songs probably attract receptive females that are not caring for calves that year, and also help rival males keep away from each other. Pregnant females stay feeding for longer than the other whales, and arrive in the wintering grounds just in time to give birth.

Gallery Edit

ARKive photos and videos of the humpback whale

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