Humpback Whales: The humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) is a species of baleenwhale. One of the larger rorqualspecies, adults range in length from 12–16 metres (39–52 ft) and weigh approximately 36,000 kilograms (79,000 lb). The humpback has a distinctive body shape, with unusually long pectoral fins and a knobbly head. An acrobatic animal known for breaching and slapping the water with its tail and pectorals, it is popular with whale watchers off the coasts of Australia and the Americas. Males produce a complex song lasting 10 to 20 minutes, which they repeat for hours at a time. Its purpose is not clear, though it may have a role in mating. Found in oceans and seas around the world, humpback whales typically migrate up to 25,000 kilometres (16,000 mi) each year. Humpbacks feed only in summer, in polar waters, and migrate to tropical or subtropical waters to breed and give birth in the winter. During the winter, humpbacks fast and live off their fat reserves. Their diet consists mostly of krill and small fish. Humpbacks have a diverse repertoire of feeding methods, including the bubble net feeding technique. Like other large whales, the humpback was and is a target for the whaling industry. Once hunted to the brink of extinction, its population fell by an estimated 90% before a moratorium was introduced in 1966. While stocks have since partially recovered, entanglement in fishing gear, collisions with ships, and noise pollution continue to impact the 80,000 humpbacks worldwide.
Baleen: The baleen whales (Mysticeti), also called whalebone whales, comprise one of two suborders of the Cetacea (whales, dolphins, and porpoises). They are the edentulous whales (the condition of being toothless to at least some degree), characterized by having baleen plates for filtering food from water, rather than teeth like in the toothed whales (Odontoceti).
Rorquals are the largest group of baleen whales, with nine extant species in two genera. They include the largest animal that has ever lived, the blue whale, which can reach 180 tonnes (200 short tons), and the fin whale, which reaches 120 tonnes (130 short tons); even the smallest of the group, the northern minke whale, reaches 9 tonnes (9.9 short tons).
Whale songs are used by whales for different kinds of communication. The word "song" is used to describe the pattern of regular and predictable sounds made by some species of whales, notably the humpback whale. This is included with or in comparison with music, and male humpback whales have been described as "inveterate composers" of songs that are "'strikingly similar' to human musical traditions". It has been suggested that humpback songs communicate male fitness to female whales. The click sounds made by sperm whales and dolphins are not strictly song, but the clicking sequences have been suggested to be individualized rhythmic sequences that communicate the identity of a single whale to other whales in its group and allows the groups to coordinate foraging activities.
Cetaceans are relatively large, generally characterized by streamlined bodies that glide easily through the marine environment. Approximately 78 species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises are included in the Order Cetacea. Cetaceans are broken into two Suborders, or main groups: Mysticeti (baleen whales) and Odontoceti (toothed whales). There are 11 species of baleen whales and 67 species of toothed whales.