Humpback whale breaching near San Juan Island, WA

May 2, 2016

5 Humongous Humpback Whale Facts

1. Humpback Whales Are Huge!

The humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) is the 5th largest of the great whales. An adult humpback whale can grow to 60 feet in length and weigh up to 80,000 pounds. As with most baleen whales, female humpback whales are larger than males. The largest recorded humpback whale was a female estimated to be 89 feet long and nearly 200,000 pounds. 

Also known as the “big-winged New Englander,” humpback whales are most recognized  for their disproportionally large pectoral fins. Measuring up to 15 feet long, the humpback whales’ long pectoral fins can even be used to swim backwards. The pectoral fin length can be as long as 1/3rd of the overall body length. 

Humpback whales are huge even at birth! At birth, a newborn humpback whale weighs 2000 pounds and is 20 feet long, approximately the length of the mother’s head. 

Many humpback whales encountered in the San Juan Islands are adult females with a new calf, or juvenile male or female whales. Recently, the very well-known humpback whale “Big Mama” returned to the Salish Sea with a new calf in tow, making this her 6th known humpback calf. 

August 9, 2012

Hooray Humpbacks!

What an incredible sight last night south of Victoria. Tangerine orange sunset and TWO humpbacks feeding in synchronization…they could have won a gold medal for synchronized swimming! These massive baleen whales were lunging for schooling fish and plankton. We could see their throat pleats stretch...Read more

August 20, 2010

Mystical Mysticetes

I know, you are probably wondering what in the world that word is and how it could possibly be pronounced. Well, both fall under the category of easy to explain. Mysticetes (MISS-ti-seats or MICE-ti-seats) are baleen whales that filter feed on small prey items. Of course, all baleen whales are...Read more

June 18, 2010

Inside a Whale's Stomach: Contents have 3.2 pound of human debris

Marine Biologist John Calambokidis showed a series of slides and some video and one listed what they found including "50 gallons of undigested contents, mostly algae but 3.2 lbs were "human debris, including plastic bag material, fabrics (including a leg of sweatpants), fishing line, golf ball,...Read more

June 4, 2009

Baleen Whales!!!

We watched a gray whale just offshore of Whidbey Island near the Naval Air Force Base. We watched as the whale would blow 3 to 6 times and then take a dive for a couple of minutes. Everyone loved the heart shaped spray that the exhale makes from gray whales. I really find it interesting that gray...Read more