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Humpback Whale - Megaptera novaeangliae
Photo by CSPACE

Herman Melville termed the humpback "the most gamesome of whales." In spite of their large size - approximately 50 feet long - humpback whales are very acrobatic and may breach, lobtail, and fin slap repeatedly. They may be seen lying on their side or back, holding one or both of their lengthy pectoral fins in the air. Humpbacks are social and highly inquisitive and will readily approach boats. Some humpback populations engage in cooperative feeding techniques. Males are known for singing long, haunting and complex "songs" on their low latitude breeding grounds.

Humpback Whale
(Megaptera novaeangliae)

The eastern North Pacific Humpback Whale stock ranges between coastal Central America and Mexico north along the coast of California to Southern British Columbia

Primarily inshore, may range offshore;. Humphrey, the world famous

Krill and small fish (sardines, anchovies, herring)


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

Quick Fact
The Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary funded the first research on humpback whales off north/central California.

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