The humpback whale is distributed worldwide in all ocean basins, though in the North Pacific it does not occur in Arctic waters. In winter, most humpback whales occur in the subtropical and tropical waters of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. The North Pacific population was considerably reduced as a result of intensive commercial exploitation during the 20th century and recovery has been very slow. Photo ID studies indicate that humpback whales from the Western and Central North Pacific mix on summer feeding grounds in the central Gulf of Alaska and perhaps the Bering Sea. Females normally reproduce every two or three years, giving birth to a calf that is 4.5 to 5 m long; it has grown to about 8 or 9 m when it is weaned at 10 or 11 months. The gestation period is 12 months. Adult males are 15 m long and adult females slightly larger at 16 m. Humpback whales in the high latitudes of the North Pacific are seasonal migrants that feed on krill and small schooling fishes. They frequently employ an interesting feeding behavior called bubble net feeding in which they surround a school of schooling fish with a curtain of bubbles.
- STEVICK, P. T., S. D. BERROW, M. BÉRUBÉ, L. BOUVERET, F. BROMS, B. JANN, A. KENNEDY, P. LÓPEZ SUÁREZ, M. MEUNIER, C. RYAN, and F. WENZEL.
2016. There and back again: Multiple and return exchange of humpback whales between breeding habitats separated by an ocean basin. J. Mar. Biol. Assoc.U.K. 96(Special Issue 04):885-890.
- BORTOLOTTO, G. A., D. DANILEWICZ, A. ANDRIOLO, and A. N. ZERBINI.
2016. Humpback whale Megaptera novaeangliae (Cetartiodactyla: Balaenopteridae) group sizes in line transect ship surveys: An evaluation of observer errors. Zoologia 33(1):e20150133. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1984-4689zool-20150133 Online.
- GARRIGUE, C., P. J. CLAPHAM, Y. GEYER, A. S. KENNEDY, and A. N. ZERBINI.
2015. Satellite tracking reveals novel migratory patterns and the importance of seamounts for endangered South Pacific humpback whales. Royal Soc. Open Sci. 2(11):11 p. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.150489. Online.
- GARLAND, E. C., A. W. GOLDIZEN, M. S. LILLEY, M. L. REKDAHL, C. GARRIGUE, R. CONSTANTINE, N. D. HAUSER, M. M. POOLE, J. ROBBINS, and M. J. NOAD.
2015. Population structure of humpback whales in the western and central South Pacific Ocean as determined by vocal exchange among populations. Conser. Biol. 29(4):1198-1207.
- Search the AFSC database for additional Humpback Whale publications
- Humpback Whales as Indicators of Herring Movements in Prince William Sound
1.41 MB Online.
- Identifying of Humpback Whale and Marine Bird Prey Using a Submersible Digital Video Camera
2.03 MB Online.
- Humpback Whale Foraging Structures Winter Schooling Behavior of Pacific Herring
1.85 MB Online.
- Search the AFSC database for additional Humpback Whale posters
- American Samoa: 2009
- California-Oregon-Washington (formerly called Eastern North Pacific and also formerly called California-Oregon-Washington-Mexico): 2010, 2009, 2008, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
- Central North Pacific: 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998
- Gulf of Maine (formerly called Western North Atlantic): 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000 1999, 1998, 1997, 1995
- Western North Pacific: 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2003, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998