- Latin: Megaptera novaeangliae
- Tlingit: yáay
Humpback whales look like a whale. They're really big. Seriously they're around 45ft long. They're black to slate gray, with white on the bottom of their tails and along their flippers or as a science guy would say "pectoral fins." Sorry it's late. But we're still giving accurate facts. Humpback whales have sleek smooth backs and their nose (in the nasal sense)/spout/blow hole is a slight bump on the top of their head. Their tails are around 15 feet wide on a mature adult, and their flippers are the longest of all whales. Humpback flippers have a textured leading edge to them that makes them more hydrodynamic, and the principle has been theorized to be and improvement to standard aircraft wings.
While in Alaska
There are somewhere around 1,500 humpback whales that make their way so Southeast Alaska. They winter in Hawaii before making their way up to Southeast Alaska. The fastest documented migration of a humpback whale was 36 days.
In our first hand observations in the upper Lynn Canal they blow and dive three times for 3-5 minutes between spouts. On the third one, upon diving they raise their flukes up out of the water and usually disappear under water for 10-15 minutes before coming up some distance from where last spotted. Around Haines they're often seen in mid May chasing the hooligan run.
In Valdez humpbacks may travel up Port Valdez as early as mid April, and remain in Prince William Sound for much of summer.
Humpbacks are also found near Seward and in Resurrection Bay throughout much of summer.
Habitat & Range
Alaska Range MapHumpbacks always feed on small prey. In Alaska humpbacks feed on around a half-ton of krill, euphausiids, hooligan, capelin, herring or sand lance daily. An awesome sight to behold is humpbacks feeding by bubble netting, where whales dive under a school of fish swimming around them corralling them it bubbles as they release air from their spouts. Then they swim up through the center of the massive bubble corral with their ginormous mouths open, scooping up as much food as they can when all the sudden wide open mouths emerge from the water before closing and quietly sinking back below.
Bubble netting can often be observed in the waters around Juneau and Resurrection Bay.