Our Humpbacks

"Big-Winged New Englander"

The humpback whale's scientific name is Megaptera novaeangliae, translated as "big-winged New Englander".  Although these whales are found in oceans around the planet, the first humpback to be formally described in the scientific record (in 1846) came from the U.S. Gulf of Maine, hence the "New Englander" part of the name.  The "big wings" refer to the flippers, which are longer than any other whale.


Anyone who sees a humpback is impressed by its enormity and grace.  The size of a city bus, it rises from the sea firing vaporous plumes from its blowholes, and then slowly rolls into the depths, exposing a tiny dorsal fin on top of a small hump. A parting view may be a pair of 15-feet wide flukes raised over the water like the outstretched wings of a massive seabird.


To learn more about humpback whales, check out the fact sheets below:




Photo: Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC)

Photo: Deborah Glockner-Ferrai

SLIDESHOW - click on image to start, press escape to exit.  Photos: Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies