└ Fast Facts
It is believed that humpback whale calves are born in warm and shallow tropical waters during the winter, although a birth has never been witnessed. The birth follows a ten to twelve month gestation period. Mothers with newborn calves remain in shallow waters for the first few days to avoid predators such as sharks and killer whales.
 
Baleen whales are filter feeders. Baleen are plates of fingernail-like material that look like toothbrush bristles hanging from the top of the mouth. Baleen whales have no teeth. How does a baleen whale eat without teeth? As it opens its mouth to take in water and food, throat grooves under the jaw expand allowing in more prey. The mouth is closed and the water is strained or filtered out through the baleen with a push of the tongue. The food is trapped inside and swallowed whole.
 
Marine mammals live much or all their lives in water. Nearly all live in the ocean, but some inhabit primarily fresh water. Marine mammals include cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises), pinnipeds (seals, sea lions, and walrus), marine fissipeds (sea otter and polar bear), and sirenians (manatees and dugong).
 
There are five classes of vertebrate animals (those with backbones)--birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and mammals. Mammals, including humans, are warm-blooded, have hair, breathe air into lungs, give live birth, and nurse their young. Most mammals live on land, but some can fly (bats) and many live in the ocean.
 
Humpbacks are distinguished from other large whales primarily by their very long pectoral fins which are about one-third of their body length. They also have a flat head with golf ball size bumps called tubercles and commonly raise their flukes when diving.
 

Adult humpbacks are 45 feet (14 meters) long and they weigh 40-45 tons (80,000 lbs). They have a daily diet of 1 ton or two thousand pounds of small fish, krill and plankton. Their tails (flukes) are 15 feet (4.5 m) wide, their pectoral fins are 15 feet (4.5 m) long. The calf's daily diet is 120 gallons of milk a day. They are born about 12 feet (3.6 meters) long and weigh about 2 tons (4,000 lbs).

 

Whales evolved from four-legged land dwellers that lived over 50 million years ago. To better exploit rich marine food resources, they adapted by retaining certain useful traits through a gradual natural selection process. Their hind feet became smaller and smaller until they eventually disappeared and their tails grew into flukes for swimming. The snout extended, raising the nostrils on top of the head to make breathing at the surface easier. These modifications eventually led to specialized whale adaptations such as powerful flukes and streamlined bodies for swimming and blowholes for easier surface breathing.

 
The largest animal to ever inhabit Earth is the blue whale, 100 feet long and weighing 150 tons.
 
Toothed whales (Odontceti) which include porpoises, dolphins, killer whales (orca), beaked whales, and sperm whales, have single blowholes and use echolocation to examine their surroundings and prey
 
Each time a whale blows and inhales, the exhalation and inhalation takes only a second and a half. The air escapes at over 300 miles per hour resulting in a loud "pooooh" sound. If you listen carefully to blows, you can hear the whale exhale and then inhale. It sounds something like "poooooh.......fuut," the sound of a long exhalation and a quick inhalation. If you are downwind from a blow, especially when the whales are feeding, the smell is something like month-old fish.
 
Marine mammals developed blubber to provide insulation against the cold and to provide an energy reserve for periods when food cannot be found in abundance.
 
Humpback whale have 14-35 throat grooves that run from the chin to the navel. These grooves allow their throat to expand during the huge intake of water during filter feeding.
 
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