All kinds of creatures inhabit the depths of oceans and seas. Humpback whales are among the larger of these animals, weighing about 40 tons and growing to up to 65 feet in length. Despite its massive size, a humpback whale can propel itself through the water with the aid of its fluke, or tail fin. The fluke also helps the humpback to leap from the water and arc into the air.
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Although they live in bodies of water, humpback whales are mammals, just like humans, requiring air to survive. They take in air through their blowholes and can hold their breath for nearly an hour.
Humpback whales are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and other animals. These whales don't simply swim up and chomp on small morsels. Instead, they use baleen plates, filters attached to their jaws, to sift fish, krill and plankton from the water. They may eat nearly a ton of a food each day. Fortunately for the smaller creatures, many humpback whales only feed in the summer. The rest of the year, they live off stored fat.
You can find humpback whales nearly all over the world. They typically migrate to cooler waters during the summer months. When it is time to find a mate or give birth to a calf, they travel to tropical waters. Sometimes, humpbacks stick close to shores, which, in the past, made then an easier target for hunters.
A group of humpback whales is called a pod -- similar to how a group of wolves is considered a pack. Pods are loose-knit groups, and whales may branch off during travels.
Humpback whales sing through moans and howls. Males may produce these songs in hopes of attracting a mate or fending off competing males. These complex songs can change as seasons pass.
Although humpback whales are large creatures, they still have their share of threats. Humans nearly hunted humpbacks to extinction; however, in 1966, the whales joined the list of endangered species. Conservation laws now protect the remaining 30 per cent of the original population.
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