W is for Humpback Whale
These majestic creatures are one of the world’s most popular mammals. They are known for their spectacular leaps out of the sea, distinctive tail fins (flukes), and their melodic singing in the ocean’s depths. The humpback is a baleen whale, a filter feeder that strains shrimp-like krill, tiny fish, or plankton through its baleen plates. It can grow to nearly 52 feet in length and weigh anywhere between 30 to 50 tons. They live off both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States and throughout the world.
Amazingly the Humpback songs appear to be shared by all singing members in the same area of the ocean: as the song changes, all members sing the new song. The same song is sung in spite of the great distance between groups in the population (up to 5000km). This sharing of songs may occur when groups intermingle during migration or in shared summer feeding grounds.
Whales face numerous threats from whaling, collisions with shipping, entanglement in nets and pollution.