Humpback Whale

Megaptera novaeangliae

Scientific Classification

Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Cetartiodactyla
Suborder Mysticeti
Family Balaenopteridae
Genus Megaptera
Species novaeangliae

Humpback whales are about 40-60 ft long (12 to 18 m) and can weigh up to 40 tons (36,000 kg)!

They have a lifespan of about 90 years!

Humpback whales feed on krill (tiny shrimp) and small fish. They migrate annually from summer feeding grounds near the poles to warmer winter breeding waters close to the Equator. 

They are found in every ocean and all seas in the world.

Threats to Humpback Whales
Fishing & harvesting of aquatic resources, pollution, anthropogenic (human-created) noise, ship strikes, whaling

Current Population Trend Increasing

Conservation Status
Least Concern

The IUCN Red List tracks the conservation status of organisms around the world. Visit the Red List to learn more about the conservation status of humpback whales.

OCS Research Insights

We have often observed mother and calf pairs swimming over the escarpment off Los Angeles.

Learn more about OCS research

Because they’re popular among whale-watchers and boat enthusiasts for their full-body breaches and other distinctive surface displays, we have often seen humpback whales being harassed!

Report whale or dolphin harassment

We share our data with other researchers to track humpback whale migration and abundance off California.

Learn more about OCS research

Humpback Whale Facts

• Males produce long, complex and melodic songs which travel for great distances through the world’s oceans.

• Humpback whales travel up to 3,000 miles (5,000 kilometers) each year.

• Their pectoral fins can grow up to 16 feet long! (5 meters)

• One of their cooperative feeding methods is called “bubble net feeding” – several whales will blow curtains of air bubbles to encircle & concentrate prey.


Protect whales and dolphins now and for future generations


Here's how you can help

Learn Safe Observation

Learn how to safely observe whales, dolphins and other marine mammals - whether from a boat, surfboard or when kayaking or swimming.

Report Injuries or Harassment

Know who to contact if you encounter marine animals who are injured, in distress, or those being harassed by humans or boats.

Support Marine Research

OCS conducts one of the longest-running investigations on wild dolphins and whales existing worldwide. Learn more about research projects that help ensure the protection of these animals for generations to come.

Share Your Knowledge!

Ocean conservation starts with education. Share this page by copy/pasting its URL into your social media accounts to educate others about the magnificent marine mammals we share our planet with.

whale and dolphin species drawings © Massimo Demma / ICRAM / Muzzio