Homeward Bound is 35cm high and 60cm long
Humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae has distinctive knobbly protuberances on the head and long flippers making this one of the most easily recognised of the large baleen whales. Its name is derived from the hump under the dorsal fin, which is particularly noticeable when the whale arches its back to dive. It reaches a maximum length of 15 – 18m and weight of 40 tonnes. This is one of the most studied of the great whales as individuals can be recognised by characteristic black and white patterns especially on the underside of the tail.
The numbers of Humpback Whales crashed during the peak of the whaling industry especially in the 1960s and 1970s. A total ban on hunting has enabled the populations to slowly recover however they are still considered vulnerable.
Humpback Whales main prey, krill and small schooling fish such as mackerel are caught by repeated open mouth lunges into the prey school. The resultant mouthful of water is then expelled through the baleen plates thus trapping the fish, which are then swallowed. This method of feeding can often involve a number whales in what appears to be a cooperative feeding strategy.
Humpbacks do not reach sexual maturity until they are at least seven years old. A single calf is born after a gestation period of approximately 12 months and will generally stay with the female for a further year. The breeding season is characterised by the winter migration to warm tropical waters and the long complex sounds or songs produced by the males during the journey. The reason for these calls is not known but it could be a combination of sexual and territorial display