North Atlantic Humpback Whale Calf

IUCN Red List: Least Concern & Increasing

Fun Facts:

  • Humpback whales have one of the longest migrations of any mammal on the planet, traveling upwards of 5,000 miles annually between their breeding grounds and their feedings grounds.
  • Only male humpback whales sing.
  • Humpback whales are known for their vocality. The North Atlantic humpback whales sing a completely different song from South Pacific humpbacks, and each year the song changes slightly, until after seven years their song is completely new. How all of the male whales learn the song and its changes, is unknown.
  • Every whale calf needs about 100 pounds of milk a day to survive.
  • Humpback whales sleep half of their brain at a time, usually resting for 25 minute increments before returning to the surface to breathe.
  • North Atlantic humpback whales have pectoral fins that are fully white, and unique 'foot prints' on their under tail which help scientists tell them apart. 

Not So Fun Facts:

  •  Whales can become entangled in heavy fishing lines including mooring lines, lobster pots, and gill nets. If the whale is able to swim with the line entangling them it can severely reduce their speed, eating habits, and result in severe injuries, reproduction stress or even death.
  • The warming of our oceans due to the climate crisis affects whales' migratory patterns, and is severely diminishing the amount of prey species they can feed on.
  • 300,000 whales and dolphins are killed as bycatch every year.

How Can I Help Protect Humpback Whales?

  • When on a boat near, or in the water with a North Atlantic humpback whale, respect their space. Do not disrupt, take selfies with, swim at, jump on, touch, grab, poke, or harass them in any way. When in doubt follow the Golden Rule.
    • Embody this mindset and remind others to respect our oceans and marine life if you find yourself in situations where they are not.
  • Remember that every experience you have with a wild animal no matter the proximity is an incredible experience that you are privileged to have. 
  • If you witness a whale in distress, entangled, has been hit by a vessel, or is dead call NOAA's Marine Mammal Entanglement Hotline: (866)755-6622. 
  • Make educated choices as a consumer
    • Support companies and brands that are sustainable and aren't known for whale bycatch or casualties.
    • Choose ecotourism trips that do not exploit or endanger marine life.
    • If you choose to eat seafood, choose locally sourced and sustainably caught seafood from fisherman who use sustainable and safe fishing gear. The app Seafood Watch can help you make educated choices when you visit your local seafood market. 
    • Sign petitions collecting signatures in support of protecting humpback whales. 
    • VOTE! Elect local, state and federal officials who are going to: 
      • Implement and vote to pass bills and policies that will protect whales, and create new marine sanctuaries that will help their populations increase.
      • Implement both Green and Blue New Deals to protect our environment and combat the climate crisis.
      • Implement bans on single-use plastic.
    • Support local legislation that protects coastal habitats.
    • Support local legislation that protects against unsustainable commercial fishing practices, regulates boat traffic and minimizes human-made ocean noise.
    • Use re-usable items instead of disposable plastic ones.
    • Eliminate single-use plastic from your everyday lifestyle.
    • Stop using any kind of inflatable helium balloons - they end up in our oceans and can kill marine life if ingested.
    • Cut up straws, 6-pack can rings, or any bags that could entrap marine life. 
    • Educate yourself about North Atlantic humpback whales, the climate crisis, the plastic crisis, and commercial fishing bycatch.
    • Go out into the world and educate others!

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