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Humpback Whale - Megaptera novaeangliae
Photo by Cornelia Oedekoven

In spite of their large size, humpback whales are very acrobatic and may breach, lobtail, and fin slap repeatedly. They are often seen lying on their side or back holding one or both of their lengthy pectoral fins in the air. Humpbacks are highly inquisitive and will readily approach boats. Sometimes they employ an impressive feeding technique called "bubble netting" for capturing huge amounts of fish by blowing "nets" of bubbles to corral and trap fish near the surface. Males are well known for singing the longest and most complex sounds found in the animal kingdom.

Humpback Whale
(Megaptera novaeangliae)

The eastern North Pacific humpback whale stock ranges between coastal Central America and Mexico and the coast of California to southern British Columbia

Both inshore and offshore

Krill and small fish (often pacific herring)


The status of this species is representative of the populations within the waters of this Sanctuary only, not global populations.

Quick Fact
The Humpback Whale's scientific name "Megaptera" means "large-winged", referring to its long, wing-like pectoral fins.

Learn More
- The National Marine Mammal Laboratory
- Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture