Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) are mammals, of the order Cetacea, which includes all whales, dolphins and porpoises. Cetaceans are further divided into the suborders Mysticeti, the baleen whales, which includes the humpback; and Odontoceti, the toothed whales, which includes toothed whales, dolphins and porpoises.
Like all mammals, including man, cetaceans are warm blooded, breathe air, and give birth to live young that they nurse from mammary glands. Unlike man and other terrestrial mammals, cetaceans are conscious breathers, meaning they actively choose when to take every breath of their lives.
The humpback whale is a large whale, ranging in length from 35 to 50 feet, and weighing in at 35-50 tons. They derive their common name, humpback whale, from the distinctive high humping of their back when they dive, and from the pronounced hump at the leading edge of their dorsal fin.
Their Latin species name, Megaptera novaeangliae, translates as “big-winged” (Mega: big; ptera: wing) “New Englander” (nova: new; eangliae: englander). This refers to their uniquely long wing-like pectoral fins, and the region where they were first scientifically described in the 1780s, the rich waters of the whaling grounds of New England.
Browse our site to learn more about the humpback whale’s distinctive features, exciting behaviors, and the famously intriguing song of the humpback whale, and how you can have the extraordinary opportunity to meet the humpback whales face to face in their natural environment.