Humpback whales are really fascinating marine creatures and their ominous size can frighten people. These whales are about 40 to 50 feet in length; and the whales can weigh up to 48 tons, if not more. Those are among some of the interesting Humpback Whale Facts For Kids that we have collected. This is one whale species that can be easily identified, thanks to its large flippers and characteristic hump on the back.
A humpback is mostly gray in color, but the black humpback whale has also been found with white markings on its body. These markings help in telling one species from another and are used by researchers to count the whale population in the wild.
Found in oceans all over the world, particularly in shallow water, humpback whales live in groups known as pods. A single pod can have 15 or more whales. They even travel together and are known for their mating song. Studies have been carried out on whale songs for years. These beautiful songs that can be heard in the open ocean are mostly the mating signals that male humpbacks make. These whales also are known for their amazing water acrobatics. It can be a mesmerizing sight to see a humpback leap out of the water and then fall back with a huge splash.
Humpback Whale Breaching
Photo Credit: Patrick Hawks
What Do Humpback Whales Eat?
Humpback whales feed on mainly krill and small fish. They are known as filter feeders, with two parallel rows of baleen plates that help them filter food from water. This is why the humpback is categorized as a species of baleen whale.
While newborn humpback whales feed on only 100 pounds of their mother’s milk every day, an adult needs a ton of food daily. It is interesting to note here that they feed mainly during the summer months in the cold, krill rich waters around Antarctica, often going many months without eating anything once they start their seasonal migration.
These whales have a long seasonal migration. Humpback whales mate during the winter season in tropical waters and head towards icy polar waters in the summer to feed. They travel at the speed of 3-9 mph and can travel 3,100 miles every season without resting. They travel 1,000 miles every month during migration period.
Humpback Whale Tail (Fluke)
Photo Credit: Christopher Michel
Habitat and Range of Humpback Whales
Humpback whales can be found in oceans all over the world. They live at the surface of the water and prefer shallow water only when not migrating. They can be found in North Pacific Ocean, North Atlantic Ocean and Southern Hemisphere oceans.
Humpback Whale Underwater
Photo Credit: Christopher Michel
These whales live for 40 to 50 years. However, they have been hunted down mercilessly and today there are just 10,000 to 15,000 humpback whales all over the world. They were declared an endangered species in 1966 and measures are being taken by conservationists and marine biologists to protect these magnificent creatures.
Baby and I
A humpback whale reproduces in the winter season. The gestational period of the whale is 11 to 12 months. The newborn humpback whale swims within 10 seconds of taking its first breath and starts swimming like an adult within 30 minutes. Baby whales stay with their mothers for a year and attain puberty between 4 and 7 years. When a whale reaches the age of 15 years, it is considered mature.
A female humpback whale gives birth to a single calf every 1 to 3 years. It is next to impossible for a female to give birth to twins.
Interesting Humpback Whale Facts For Kids:
- Humpback whales can dive 500 to 700 feet and stay there for 15-30 minutes.
- They are renowned for their stunts, such as slapping the water and twirling around.
- They also do something known as spy-hopping wherein the whale pokes its head out of the water.
- Humpback whales indulge in an activity known as lobtailing, where they stick out their tails, swing it and slap it on the water surface, creating a loud sound.
- Humpback whales have two blowholes near the top of their heads through which they breathe.
- They are known for their singing, which is mostly a mating signal by male humpback whales. Their song has the largest range of frequencies, between 20-9000 hertz.
- Under normal circumstances, humpbacks are slow swimmers attaining speeds of 3-9 mph, but in danger, these whales can swim at 15-16.5 mph.
- Since humpback whales breathe voluntarily, they can fall off to sleep by shutting off half their brain which allows them to continue breathing using the awake part of their brain.
- Humpback whales mainly feed in the summer months.
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