Humpback whale

Humpback whale – Megaptera novaeangliae – Μεγάπτερη φάλαινα

Other common names:
FR – mégaptère
ES – yubarta
IT – megattera
DE – Buckelwal

The humpback whale is an occasional visitor in the Mediterranean Sea, entering the region from the Strait of Gibraltar. The most recent sighting in this part of the world was reported in Slovenian waters in 2009. Their scientific name, Megaptera novaeangliae, means “big-winged New Englander” as the New England population was the one best known to Europeans.

Humpback whales are well known for their long pectoral fins, which can be up to 4.6 m in length. These are slender whales with a flattened top covered by fleshy tubercles (lumps) with rounded knob near tip of lower jaw. Broad bushy vertical blow 2.5-3.0m high. The Humpback dorsal fin is variable in size and shape from small triangular knob to larger sickle-shaped, situated nearly two-thirds along back. Head and body black or grey, white on throat and belly; very long flippers (white undersides). Distinctly-notched and irregularly-edged tail flukes (with partial white undersides). When fully grown, humpback whales can measure up to 17 m.

IUCN Red List classification: Listed as Least Concern globally (IUCN 2008).