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HUMPBACK WHALE (Megaptera novaeangliae)


  • Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List
  • Included on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES),
    making international trade in this species illegal
  • The Arabian Sea subpopulation and the Oceania subpopulation are classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List
HABITAT Found in shallow, coastal waters in tropical as well as polar region ocean.
RANGE Found throughout the world’s oceans. Make huge migration journeys from polar to tropical ocean annually.
PHYSICAL FEATURES
  • Length – 11-15 m, Weight – 25-30 tonnes
  • Blue-black body with white underparts.
  • Huge flippers reaching almost 5 m in length.
  • Head is covered with many raised lumps.
  • The spreading tail flukes have a distinct indentation in the middle. Pattern on the underside of the fluke is unique to each whale.
  • On the underside of the mouth are 12 to 36 throat grooves, which can expand when filtering water during feeding.
FAST FACTS
  • As the whale undertakes a deep dive it usually arches its back hence the common name.
  • Humpback is a baleen whale that filter feeds small planktons with sieve like plates called baleens inside their mouth.
  • Known for their magical songs, which travel for great distances through the world’s oceans. These sequences of moans, howls, cries, and other noises are quite complex and often continue for hours on end.
POPULATION There are distinct and healthy population of the whale in all world oceans, however a sub-population found in the Arabian sea has been found to be non-migratory and little is known about the number of these whales.
THREATS
  • In the 1900s lakhs of humpback whales were slaughtered, but they are protected today.
  • Climate change and the change in fish stock is a threat.
  • Marine pollution.
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