While there are several species of whales and dolphins that are migrating right now off the California Coast, today’s blog will feature the Humpback Whale. They are considered an endangered species, and are monitored with photography identification from research stations like Monterey Bay to keep track of their population. So far there are about 800 Humpback Whales in the populations traveling along our coastline according to Monterey Bay, but other researchers say they may have a population around 1,400, but that is still 10% of their original population.
Humpbacks are known for their friendly behavior, as many of the newer generations are unfamiliar with whaling practices and are curious about the boats that come to take people out to see them. They are also known to protect other species from killer whales, which hunt for vulnerable baby gray whales that they often travel with. They also breach the water and slap the surface with their fins making large noises. The males are known for their singing, often for 20 min long at a time in repetitive songs that vary slightly each year.
These whales are one of the few baleen whales that hunt cooperatively. Baleen, meaning they have baleen plates in their mouths to feed on Krill, Herring, and Plankton. How to identify the humpback is by noticing they tend to be darker in shade. Their dorsal fin forms a hump when they dive, and their flippers are often so long, often 1/3 of the body length. You can also find little protuberances, which are wartlike bumps along its blowhole and face.