Friday, March 29, 2013

Humpback Whale Study

The scientific name of the humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) means long-winged New Englander. During the summer the waters off Newfoundland host huge numbers of humpbacks and some of the deep bays have humpbacks that remain during the winter to pursue herring and other marine creatures. The "long wings" of the humpback are its pectoral fins — the longest in the world — which can measure over 12 feet in length. Humpbacks are large baleen whales measuring up to 50 feet and were a favorite of whalers in the 19th and 29th century due to their slow swimming speed that made them an easy target. This whale was considered an endangered species by some countries in the 1970's and the the cessation of whaling has resulted in the recovery in numbers of this remarkable mammal. 
Here is a closeup view of the humpback's blowhole. The whales come to feed on caplin and krill in Witless Bay in summer. I was fortunate to be able to photograph this denizen of the deep from the comfort of a Zodiac.

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