Humpback Whale Size
There's no doubt that humpback whales are some of the largest creatures in the ocean. This whale species is said to be the size of a school bus!
The question is,
How do these humpback whales compare to other baleen whales?
Come take a deep dive in as we explore the size of the humpback whale, one of the most astonishing marine animals!
Size Of A Humpback Whale
The average size of a humpback whale is anywhere from 39 to 52 feet. The largest adult humpback whales can grow up to 60 feet long, though female humpback whales often don't make it past 49 feet.
Humpback whales can weigh around 40 tons.
One impressive thing about the humpback whale is that its flippers can grow up to 16 feet long, giving them the world record for the longest appendages on Earth. If that wasn't impressive enough, their tails can grow up to 18 feet wide!
Blue Whale vs. Humpback
These baleen whales are not the largest by any means. The biggest baleen whale in the world is the blue whale, which can average around 90 feet in length!
In terms of weight, humpback whales only weigh around half of what a blue whale weighs.
Humpback Whale Mouth Size
Humpback whales have pretty large mouths, reaching up to 10 feet!
For this reason, it's pretty easy for them to accidentally scoop up large sea creatures, such as sea lions when swimming around their habitats. However, because humpback whales have such small throats, it's impossible for them to eat or swallow larger marine mammals!
Humpback Whale Throat Size
Though a humpback whale mouth can get up to 10 feet, its throat can only stretch out to around 12-15 inches in diameter, making it impossible to feed on very large meals.
For humans, this is good news, as a humpback whale could never swallow you.
For this reason, humpback whales only stick to krill and small fish.
Humpback Whale Brain Size
As you may have guessed, humpback whales have large brains. To give you an idea of its brain size, an adult humpback whale's brain is about 8,000 cubic centimeters. A human brain is around 1,300 cubic centimeters.
Their brains are also very complex. When marine biologists compared them to other cetacean species, they found a special type of neuron cell within the humpback whale brain. It is called a spindle cell, and it is also found in the brains of humans.
Plus, the cerebral cortex within the humpback's brain, the portion of the brain where thought processing occurs, has a similar complexity to dolphin species, meaning that humpback whales are potentially just as intelligent as dolphins.
Humpback Whale Heart Size
The humpback whale heart is around five feet in length from the lowest chamber to the top of the aorta. On average, these hearts can weigh up to 400 pounds, pumping next to 58 gallons of blood through the whale's body every time it beats!
Humpback Whale Size Comparison To Human
Coming in just behind the blue whale, the humpback whale is the second largest whale on the planet and one of the most well-known whales out there. If you've ever been on a boat with whale watchers, you are likely looking for humpback whales.
At about the size of a school bus, you could likely fit up to 40 humans or more within the body of a humpback whale. Their long pectoral fins, which can grow up to around 20 feet long, are nearly four times the size of your average adult human.
FUN FACT: A humpback whale's dorsal fin is like a human fingerprint in that no two dorsal fins are the same.
Do They Have Humps?
While these animals do not have camel-like humps on their backs, we call them humpbacks because of the hump located directly in front of their dorsal fin. Humpbacks arch their backs as they are preparing to dive, and when they do, this hump becomes more pronounced and more easily visible. This distinctive hump is not seen in any other large whale.
Where Do Humpback Whales Live?
Humpback whales don't spend their lives in one place. In fact, these whales migrate all over the world. The place we find them depends on the time of year.
During the summer, many North Atlantic humpbacks make their way to summer feeding grounds, such as the Gulf of Maine on the East Coast, or the Gulf of Alaska on the West Coast. However, during the winter, these humpback whales like to swim into the warmer waters of the Southern Hemisphere. They venture closer to the equator near places like Africa, South America, and Hawaii.
There are exceptions, however. For example, humpback whales that live in the Arabian Sea will stay there throughout the year, eating and mating in the same place.
Do Humpback Whales Live Alone?
Humpback whales often travel alone, though some travel in smaller groups called pods.
These pods typically consist of two to three humpback whales.
When a humpback whale pod gets together, they will travel and communicate with each other.
In addition, a mother humpback whale will typically take care of its humpback calves, showing them how to hunt.
Perhaps the most fascinating thing about humpback whales is that they migrate further than any other animal on the planet.
These baleen whales can regularly travel up to 3,000 miles between their breeding grounds and feeding grounds.
FUN FACT: One of the largest migrations ever recorded was around 11,700 miles, a humpback whale road trip stretching from American Samoa to the Antarctic Peninsula.
What Are Whale Songs?
The humpback whale is known for its haunting whale song, a complex sequence of cries, moans, and howls, which often go on for many hours. Scientists have concurred that only male humpbacks sing, meaning it is most likely a mating call.
A single humpback male will sing the exact same song repeatedly, and every male in a population knows the same song. However, the songs for each whale population are unique.
Humpback whales in the North Atlantic use very different songs from those in the North Pacific. Each year, these songs will change slightly.
These songs can be heard from more than 20 miles away!
Other large whales sing as well! These include fin whales, blue whales and minke whales. Right whales use individual calls rather than singing.
What Do Humpback Whales Eat?
Humpback whales are a species of baleen whales, meaning instead of teeth, they have an average of 300 baleen plates, which overlap with one another and hang up and down from their jaws. These baleen plates are made out of keratin, the same substance your nails and hair are made of. But, of course, these plates are much larger than your nails at around 30 inches on average.
A humpback whale's diet consists mostly of small fish, plankton, and krill. To eat, they will consume massive gulps of water. Small grooves in their mouths expand to hold the water before they filter it out and expel it through their blowhole, leaving behind the fish and other delicious goodies they picked up along the way.
Humpback whales eat during the summer and then fast while mating, living off the fat reserves stored in their blubber.
FUN FACT: Humpback whales use a unique hunting method called bubble net feeding, in which they dive in unison, exhaling their breath as they swim in downward spirals. The air bubbles that are produced corral or herd fish. Who needs fishing gear to hunt?
How Many Babies Do Humpback Whales Have?
Female humpback whales have a single offspring every two to three years. The gestation period lasts about 12 months, and the offspring are born live, similarly to other whales and the vast majority of mammals.
A newborn humpback whale will come out around 10 to 15 feet long, weighing around a ton. A humpback whale calf, similar to other whales, must nurse for up to a year before it can hunt, meaning it must get milk from its mother. A calf will drink anywhere next to 158 gallons of milk every day.
FUN FACT: A baby humpback whale will double in size during its first year of life and will keep growing for the next ten years until its reaches sexual maturity.
Are Humpback Whales Endangered?
Luckily, the International Whaling Commission prohibited commercial whaling many years ago, as humpback whales were listed as endangered back in 1988. From 1940 until now, the population has recovered by about 30-40%.
If your thirst for whale knowledge is not quite quenched, head over to one of our recent articles!