The humpback whale is a large marine mammal that is one of over 80 known species of cetacean. Humpback whales also known as their scientific name; Megaptera Novaeangliae are one of the most recognisable cetaceans in Australian waters.These marine mammals are usually identified by their enormous size, majestic whale songs and their aerial acrobatic abilities such as their ability to continuously breach the water in spite of their large bodies.
They have a distinct hump at the base of their dorsal fin, a blow hole on the top of their head, sensory tuercules on their upper and lower jaws and very long and distinctive pectoral fins that can be up to 5 meters long on an adult.
Humpback whales can reach up to 16 m in length and weigh up to 40 tone. Humpbacks often have lots of barnacles on the jaw. The humpback whales in Australia are white on their underbelly and dark grey / black along their backs.
humpback whale populations are recovering throughout the world, including the population that migrates each winter to the Great Barrier Reef Region. The population of ‘east Australian’ humpback whales was as low as 500 animals when whaling ceased. The population in 2008 was estimated to have been more than 10,000 animals, half of the estimated pre-whaling population size.
Humpback whales come from Antarctic waters to the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area from May to September to calve and to build up strength over the winter before they return to the Antarctic in summer.
Because of their status, and the fact that Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area waters are nursery areas, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) is committed to ensuring that all whales are able to use the Great Barrier Reef waters without being pressured by human interference.