Whales You May See
One of the whales you're likely to spot during a Boston Harbor Cruises Whale Watch is the humpback. These Northern hemisphere whales reach an average length of 50 feet, and weigh about 37 tons! Sadly, they're also among the most endangered. It's estimated only 8 percent of their original population remains.
The humpback got its name because of the way its back arches out of the water when getting ready to take a deep dive. "Megaptera" is its true scientific name, which means "large-winged," in reference to its long flippers.
Each Humpback has distinct black and white markings on its fluke (tail). Since no two flukes are alike, scientists use these markings to distinguish one humpback from another.
When humpbacks leap up into sight, it's not because they like putting on a show. They're actually "lunge feeding" - plowing through heavy areas of food with their mouths open wide, ready for catches. While you're taking pictures, they're dining on schooling fish like anchovies, cod and capelin.
Humpbacks are also famous for their "singing". These mammals can put Pavarotti to shame: they're capable of hitting octaves that include frequencies humans can't pick up. Male humpbacks are the divas, with songs lasting as long as a half an hour - and then repeated with slight changes. While singing, the whale floats essentially motionless, head down in the water. The purpose of the song is believed to be mating or possible male dominance behavior. Scientists also believe humpbacks communicate by slapping the water with their fins and tail flukes, which creates noise other whales can hear far away under water.
For more whale info, visit these sites: