Temporal range: Miocene–Recent
|Size compared to an average human|
|Humpback whale range|
They can grow to 15–16 m (49–52 ft) long and weigh up to 40 metric tons.
Humpback whales eat krill and small fish, for example herring, capelin, and sand lance. They scoop up their food in their large mouths. Sometimes they round up their prey by swimming in tight circles and blowing curtains of bubbles around them. They often hunt in small groups, called pods.
The male whale is known to sing for up to 22 hours at a time. Because whales do not have vocal cords, they make songs by forcing air through their nasal passages. Every male has a different song. We don't yet know why they sing, it might be to call a female or scare away other males. The songs are made up of a pattern of low notes repeated over a period of hours or days. The whales slowly change their songs over a period of years.
Both the male and female humpback whales make other sounds, such as moans and grunts, to communicate with each other.
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- Reilly, S.B., Bannister, J.L., Best, P.B., Brown, M., Brownell Jr., R.L., Butterworth, D.S., Clapham, P.J., Cooke, J., Donovan, G.P., Urbán, J. & Zerbini, A.N. (2008). "Megaptera novaeangliae". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 18 January 2013.
- Chapham, Phillip J.; Mead, James G. (1999). "Megaptera novaeangliae". Mammalian Species 604: 1–9.
- Thomas Ling (June 22, 2021). "How humpback whales communicate through a hidden global network of song". BBC Science Focus Magazine. Retrieved July 7, 2021.