Exclusive Video: Humpback Whales Star in New IMAX

A new IMAX film documents the recovery of humpback whales from near extinction and the long migration of the 50-ton animals and their calves.

A new 3-D IMAX film features humpback whales traveling around the world, showing how the marine mammals communicate, feed and care for their young.

Narrated by actor Ewan MacGregor and produced by nature documentary filmmakers MacGillivray Freeman Films, "Humpback Whales" opens nationwide Friday, Feb. 13.

Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) were hunted to near extinction half a century ago. The film delves into their recovery -- the whales are currently classified as "endangered" on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List of threatened species -- as researchers study the massive sea mammals in Alaska, Hawaii and Tonga.

The whales can weigh as much as 50 tons and grow nearly 60 feet long. And they're fantastically accurate navigators, sometimes traveling 10,000 miles round-trip in a nearly straight line.

Check out exclusive behind-the-scenes footage in the video below.

Underwater cameraman Howard Hall films humpbacks in Tonga. The producers had special permits to document the whales, which are protected in this island nation.

The new IMAX 3-D film "Humpback Whales" follows the marine mammals during their 10,000-mile migration. The film opens nationwide on Friday, Feb. 13. Pictured: A whale and her calf show their flukes off the coast of Maui. Baby humpbacks emulate their mothers’ social behavior as they learn important survival skills.

VIDEO: Humpback Whales Star in New IMAX

A mother humpback whale and her calf. The baby may grow to a length of nearly 60 feet and weigh as much as 50 tons.

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A humpback whale and calf surface off the coast of Maui.

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Director Greg MacGillivray films humpbacks with an IMAX camera while on location in Maui, along with assistant cameraman Robert Walker (left) and marine biologist Jim Darling.

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A group of humpback whales bubble-net feed off the coast of Alaska. This is the one of the most complex social behaviors of any marine mammal.

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An adult humpback whale breaches off the coast of Maui. Males create a song that lasts as long as 20 minutes at time, sometimes for hours, and is believed to be used in mating.

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Marine biologist Jim Darling observes a humpback whale from a research vessel off the coast of Maui.

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A humpback whale surfaces off the coast of Tonga.

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Two humpbacks swim gracefully together.

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The whales, now considered endangered, where hunted nearly to extinction until a moratorium on humpback whaling in 1966.

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A humpback whale breaches in Alaska’s Inside Passage.

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Humpback whales typically travel in pods. An estimated 80,000 humpbacks live today in every ocean.

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