Few animals on earth are as majestic and awe-inspiring as whales. Their sheer size, coupled with their underwater elegance, makes seeing just a hint of one breaking the ocean's surface a life goal for many of us. Among the more well-known of these glorious giants is the musical, acrobatic humpback.
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The scientific name for humpbacks, Megaptera novaeangliae, means "big-winged New Englander" but they are found in all the major oceans. They are known for their impressive seasonal migrations, which are the farthest of any mammal. One migration was recorded from Costa Rica to Antarctica - 5,160 miles. This was completed by seven whales, including one calf.
On average, humpback whales weigh 25 to 40 tons and reach 60 feet in length (about the size of a school bus). These powerful, massive creatures have captured our attention not only for their size but also their acrobatic displays and their songs, some of which can last for 20 minutes and be heard from 20 miles away. Although their populations have been on the rise, they still face threats from habitat disruptions, ship strikes, and fishing practices.
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Read more about Humpback Whales:
National Geographic: Humpback Whales
NOAA: Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)