Species

Humpback Whale

medias

  • Humpback whale (St. Lawrence)
  • Humpback Whale (Azores)
  • Humpback Whale (Dominican Republic)
  • Humpback Whale (dorsal fin)
  • Humpback Whale
  • Humpback Whale
  • Humpback Whale (jumping)
  • Humpback Whale (dorsal fin)
  • Humpback Whale
  • Humpback Whale
  • Humpback Whale
  • Humpback Whale
  • Humpback Whale
  • Humpback Whale (jumping)
  • Humpback Whale
  • Humpback Whale (surface feeding)
  • Humpback Whale (surface feeding)
  • Humpback Whale (surface feeding)
  • Young Humpback Whale (jumping) - Silver Bank, Dominican Republic
  • Humpback Whale (mother, calf and escort) - Silver Bank, Dominican Republic
  • Humpback Whale (mother, calf and escort) - Silver Bank, Dominican Republic
  • Young Humpback Whale - Silver Bank, Dominican Republic
  • Young Humpback Whale - Silver Bank, Dominican Republic
  • Young Humpback Whale - Silver Bank, Dominican Republic
  • Humpback Whale (surface feeding) - Alaska
  • Humpback Whale (surface feeding)
  • Humpback Whale (surface feeding)
  • Humpback Whale feeding - Alaska
  • Humpback Whale surrounded with ice in late autumn
  • Humpback Whale - Antarctica

Humpback whales frequent the coastal waters of the Gulf and the Estuary in summer.

In the course of a given season they can prove to be highly mobile, with sightings in multiple regions of the Gulf: the Mingan Archipelago, Anticosti Island, the Gaspé Peninsula and the St. Lawrence Estuary.

This species is present in all the world’s oceans.

The humpback whales that frequent the St. Lawrence belong to the North Atlantic population.

This species seems to be recovering.

The humpback whale does not longer appear in the List of threatened or vulnerable species in Quebec.

The Western North Atlantic population is listed as “not at risk” by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC).

The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s” (IUCN) List has listed the species as “least concern”.

The humpback whale is a gulper.

It feeds on planktonic crustaceans (krill) and *small schooling fish (herring, capelin, sand lance).

It feeds alone or cooperates with other individuals to hunt its prey.

Feeding techniques (like bubble net feeding) can also be passed between adults within a population


Illustrated species: (from high to low, from left to right): herring, krill, capelin.



Mother/calf pairs stay associated 1 or sometimes 2 years.
It corresponds to the longest mother-calf bond of any Mysticeti whale.

Although mostly solitary, humpbacks are observed in pairs or small rather unstable groups.

In summer, the formation of small groups is believed to be linked to sectors where food is abundant.

In the fall, groups are observed during migration.

In winter, more compact groups and even larger gatherings take shape for the reproductive season.


Photo credit: Jean Lemire

Humpback whales vocalize mainly to communicate.

During the breeding season, males perform long, melodious and complex songs to attract females and to establish dominance amongst competing males.

They might also use sounds to “read” their environment, get their bearings and identify large targets. These powerful, low-frequency sounds can travel long distances.


Photo credit: Jean Lemire

The humpback is a rather slow moving animal.

It possesses long pectoral fins, serrated and covered in tubers, that improve its manoeuvrability and are used for steering and balance.

These fins are unique in the animal kingdom and might even inspire engineers for applications for aircraft wings or wind turbine blades!

It breaches and lands noisily on its back, belly or side.

It also practise spyhopping and, occasionally, some individuals can be very curious toward watercraft.


Photo credit: Jean Lemire

Dives last 5 to 10 minutes (reaching upward of 30 minutes), and rarely exceed depths of 120 m.

The humpback whale was the first to be studied in its natural environment and knowledge of this species has progressed rapidly in recent years. Today it is the best known of all the large cetaceans.

Given that individuals are easily recognizable, a broad-scale photo-identidication project was carried out. The spectacular behaviours of the humpback have drawn the attention of numerous scientists as well as whale enthusiasts. In the St. Lawrence, the majority of research projects other than photo-identification initiatives focus on species of more precarious status. For the St. Lawrence, MICS manages a catalogue comprising over 700 individuals.