Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeanglia)


Humpback whales are definitely an Elding crew favourite! They are one of the larger whales we encounter on our tours and some of the more enjoyable creatures we have the pleasure of encountering in our waters. They hold the record of the longest migration of any mammal in the world (approx. 16.000 km. roundtrip) and are about the size of a large school bus!

For years, they have intrigued us humans, rendering them among the most extensively studied cetaceans in our oceans. Researchers worldwide are greatly fascinated by their intelligence, social interactions and their diverse surface behaviour. Humpback whales will often display a range of activities including breaching, rolling, pectoral- and tail slapping, all of which we have had the pleasure of seeing on many occasions. These behaviours serve several potential purposes; they might aid in the removal of parasites from the whales' skin, startle prey, or function as communication signals.

Our research on humpback whale social organisation in Faxaflói bay revealed that they are mostly solitary beings, although sometimes they form groups where the social structure appears flexible and possibly based on reciprocity. Observations suggest that some individuals may associate or tolerate each other, forming distinct groups with occasional interactions and certain individuals act as social connectors between different groups.

Length: 13-17 meters
Weight: 25-40 tons
Life expectancy: 95 years
Est. population around Iceland: 1.000-2.000
Social behaviour: Like to travel in a pair but more may come together in feeding and mating grounds
Diet: Schooling fish, krill
Suborder: Mysticeti – Baleen Whale
Family: Balaenopteridae – Rorqual
IUCN Listing: Least Concern
Major threats: Climate change, noise and chemical pollution, marine debris, human disturbance, habitat loss and entanglement in fishing lines and nets
Other Names: Hnúfubakur, Buckelwal, Rorqual à bosse, Pukkelhval, Knølhval, Ballenajorobada
humpback whale peduncle throw

Humpback whales have for long captivated humans due to their complexity, making them one of the most studied cetaceans in our world's oceans. Their intelligence, social behaviours and diverse surface activities have gained significant interest of researchers around the world. They exhibit a rich array of fascinating behaviours, contributing to our understanding of their intricate social structures and ecological roles in the marine ecosystem.