Saturday, June 03, 2006
A Whale of a Tail
The Humpback whale is a baleen whale and has the scientific name of Megaptera novaeangliae ("big-winged New Englander"). This whale can measure up to 53 feet long and weigh 40 tons. The humpback has the largest flippers of any of the whales up to 16 feet long. They are very curious creatures and commonly shadow whalewatch boats in the waters off Witless Bay and Bay Bulls. They are not fast swimmers but are quite acrobatic, demonstrating jumps ( breaching), tail slapping and poking their heads out ( spyhopping). Humpbacks are an endangered species. It is estimated that about 3,000 humpbacks live in the North Atlantic and the world population is 8,000 to 10,000. Their tails are quite distinctive and are usually used to identify individual humpbacks.