Why is the Humpback Whale an Endangered Species?


The humpback whale was declared an endangered species in 1966 and given protective status by the International Whaling Commission.


  • Each humpback whale can be identified by its fin and flukes as other whale species are different .


  • Adult male humpback whales are between 40 and 48 feet long. Females are slightly longer, averaging between 45-50 feet. Adult humpbacks weigh between 25-40 tons and eat one and one-half tons of krill daily. Krill are tiny crustaceans similar to shrimp.

Time Frame

  • Female humpback whales give birth to babies that are 10 to 15 feet long at birth and weigh around 2,000 pounds, one ton. The female is pregnant for 12 months and then nurses her calf for another year. She can give birth to a baby calf about once every three years.


  • Humpback whales can be found in all of the earth's oceans. Except for one group of humpback whales that live in the Arabian Sea, these whales follow an annual migration. They go to the cooler temperate and polar oceans to feed in the summer and then swim south to the tropical seas to mate and give birth to their calves in winter.


  • It became illegal to hunt humpback whales in 1966. Most nations respected this ban on hunting, except for the Soviet Union, which did not stop its hunting until the 1970s.


  • Hunting is not the only reason that the humpback whale is endangered. The destruction of their habitat also contributes to the disappearance of these animals. For example, humpback whales migrate from Mexico, Hawaii, and Japan to Alaska's Glacier Bay to feed on krill during the summer. This bay receives runoff from the waters that flow through the Tongass Forest. As long as it was a protected wilderness area, the bay was safe. However, since 2003, when the Healthy Forests Initiative opened 9 million acres of this forest to logging, the bay is at risk from runoff that contains sediment and nitrates from logging. This has the potential to kill the krill.


  • Only between 30,000 and 40,000 humpback whales remain in the world. This is about one-third the number of whales that originally roamed the seven seas. It is important to protect humpback whales.

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