humpback whale

Even though this whale of a whale weighs many tons, the humpback whale can make acrobatic leaps out of the water! The name "humpback" comes from the way they arch their backs as they rise out of the ocean. This endangered whale is also known for its beautiful underwater "songs." Some scientists think these songs may be how whales "talk" to each other.

Scientific name: Megaptera novaeangliae
Size: 42 to 52 feet long, 30 to 60 tons
Habitat: migrates and lives in all oceans from the poles to the tropics
Diet: krill and various fish including small schooling fish like herring
Importance: 100,000 were killed by whalers before the humpback was listed as an endangered species

Image credits: courtesy of W.S. Lawton, NMML, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Mammal Laboratory..