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Mating and Breeding

Humpback Whales are polygynous, therefore the male interbreed with one or more females but the females only breed with a single male specie. During courtship, the male specie can surround a female and fight in an attempt to get closer to her. Scientists are still studying the courtship and mating habits to determine how the female chooses her mate. It is widely believed that the strongest and biggest succeeds. If your looking to go whale watching use the Juneau Whale Watch Promo Code on this site to save some money.

Whale songs are known to travel great distances, 100km or more. It usually symbolizes communication for mating, moans, groans, snores, cries and others still too complex to decipher. The calves often whisper to their mothers. Specific songs are sung by all the whales living within an area of the ocean. Whales are known for their prolific repertoire of songs usually sang in low tones with varying amplitudes and frequencies, vocalizing some frequencies well beyond human hearing. The male specie often sing the songs lasting nearly half an hour. Each year the song differs from the previous year. The male humpbacks that migrate to Hawaii have different songs from the whales that travel to the Gulf of Mexico. Breeding takes place during winter in tropical waters, where the males aggressively compete to mate with the females. During the mating rituals, the male whale leaps and splashes. According to scientists the strongest, biggest and in most cases strongest succeeds in wading off competition and mating with the female whale. The females have a gestation period of 11 – 12 months and give birth to one calf every 1-3 years. The calves are born tail first and in shallow water, the calves can swim within the hour of being born. Within the first seconds of being born the calves instinctively swim to the surface to catch their breath. Adult whales have large lungs the size of a car and can therefore hold their breath underwater for close to an hour. 
Humpback whales have a life span of 250 years. At age 5, female humpback whales reach puberty and reproduce from age 8 while the male are a slower to develop, reaching puberty at age 9 and maturity at age 11. 
Adult female hump whales are averagely 45ft in length and weigh about 36tons (72000 pounds). The females are slightly bigger than their male counterparts

Most mothers have one calf every 2-3 years, according to studies it is possible for a female to give birth every year and every consecutive year provided there is enough food to cater for the mother and her fetus. At birth, the calves are averagely between 10-15ft in size and weigh 1 ton (2000 pounds). The calves suckle on the Nipple of their mothers until they’re old enough to hunt and survive independently. They nurse for 6-10 months on milk which is predominantly 40% fat, to put this to perspective human milk is 2%. The calves drink about 45kg of milk daily, they stay with the mother for additional one year after getting weaned. There are about 22,000 hump back whales in North America, steadily growing at a 7% rate annually. Mothers and calves often swim together touching flippers often regarded as a gesture of affection. The calves of the humpback are one of the fastest growing within its specie, growing 8-10m within a year. The calves continue to grow until they get to the age of 10, that’s when they cease to grow. 


Humpbacks are known for their strong swimming abilities using their massive tail fin as a propeller inside and above the surface of water. These energetic aquatic animals Frequently leap out of the water, landing with a huge splash.


Before the whaling ban, humpback whale populations significantly reduced. Nearing extinction, their conservation was enacted and their numbers have since increased. There are still numerous factors that affect their survival such as ship collision and fishing nets. 

Humpback facts

  • Group: Mammalia
  • Order: Cetacea
  • Sub-Order: Mysticeli
  • Family: Balaenopteridae
  • Genus: Megaptera
  • Common name : Humpback Whale
  • Scientific name : Megaptera Novaeangliae
  • Type : Mammal
  • Diet : Carnivores
  • Length Adults: 42ft to 50ft; Calves: 10ft to 15ft at birth
  • Weight Adults: up to 40 tonnes; Calves: 1 ton at birth
  • Gestation: 11 to 12 months
  • Weaning age: up to 10 months
  • Calving interval: 2 years
  • Physical maturity age: 12 to 15 years
  • Sexual maturity age: 4 to 10 years
  • Mating season: May to October
  • Calving season: May to October
  • Cruising speed: 4-5mph
  • Top speed : 9-10 knots
  • Predators : Humans and Killer whales
  • Blow pattern: Small and bushy, up to 4m
  • Protected Since 1986