Hawaiian humpback whales are warm-blooded mammals that breathe out air. Their name comes from their hump located on the back. They are covered with tubercles on their heads and lower jaw. These tubercles are hair follicles. The tales have wavy edges. These tales can be up to a third of their body length. Their fins have their own unique pattern similar to a human thumbprint. The females every two to three years and their pregnancy lasts for eleven and a half months. All humpback whales sing, although the reason is unknown. There is a possibility that males sing to attract females. They do not have vocal chords but instead produce sound by pushing air out of their nasal cavity. It is estimated that in the North Pacific there were as many as 15,000 humpback whales before 1900.  In 2007 there were 10,000 known to be in existence. Now the number is estimated to be around 2,000.

They have been  hunted for their oil meat and whalebone. A serious threat for this species is drift net fishing. Driftnets are huge nets made of nylon that drift across the open ocean floor for a period of eight hours or more. Their target species are tuna and squid but whales also get caught in the process.

Coastal gill nets are used by both artisanal and non-commercial fishermen. They are smaller than the drift nets and can be anchored down to the bottom. The humpback whales that are at most risk to these nets are the ones close the Hawaiian shores.

Humpback whales are protected by two federal laws: The Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 and The Endangered Species Act of 1973. In the Hawaiian Islands it is against the law to fly over humpback whales within one thousand feet. No one is allowed to approach a humpback whale within one hundred yards or closer than three hundred of a mother and calf. Any form of harassment to a humpback whale is illegal. Federal law can prosecute violators. The International Whaling Commission strives to protect whales outside of the United States. The Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) protect whales and other endangered species from having their parts traded. It is an international treaty the 120 nations have signed.

Citations: Earthtrust

Wikipedia

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8 responses »

  1. Chris s says:

    I thought this related well to the protection of whales in general.
    http://animal.discovery.com/tv/whale-wars/
    These guys take innovative actions. I believe that Netflix has the whole series available on-line.

  2. This post is relatively segmented in how it’s written, but I think it touches on most of the important facts about humpback whales. It was interesting to read that they have patterns on their fins that are entirely separate from each other. It’s also alarming how quickly the population has reduced in just in the recent years, it’s obvious that almost every source of destruction on earth is the cause of humans whether it’s direct or not.

  3. Perhaps they sing for the same reasons we create music and sound-it affects the emotions. This article really shed to light how fast they are getting killed-I really had no idea that there are only now about 2,000 whales left.

  4. Jillian :D says:

    I thought it was really cool how the unique pattern of the humpback fin is similar to that of a human thumbprint. Awesome!! It is so sad to read that a lot of sea life gets caught in these dumb fishing nets. Makes me so mad. Honestly, can’t fisherman tell whether there is a whale in their net?? Don’t the fisherman pay attention to what they are catching in their nets? Net duty or something. They should have some sort of weight sensitive net or have cameras on the sides of the nets to see what they are catching. The fact that there is only 2,000 more humpback whales left is so depressing. The sounds that they produce are so beautiful. I wish that I could snap my fingers and have everything be good again, but nothing is that easy.

  5. Although slightly reminiscent of the books reports of old, I too find this to be very informative on all things humpback whale. It baffles me that people could have at anytime felt fine with brutally stabbing these creatures to death for any reason. Being warm blooded mammals who birth and rear their own young I find it hard to think that some people are incapable of connecting the similarities between our two species. I think the fact that whales have evolved in social circles of their own to develop their own communities or “pods” should be testament enough to their individuality and sense of self. This should be enough to end the killing of such wonderful creatures world wide. It is a sad world for whales.

  6. Patrick Bradford says:

    I had noooo idea that whales did not have vocal cords. its so funny to me because everyone who always says that whales singing is so soothing and whatever but the whales are actually producing sound by pushing air out of their nasal cavity. that’s awesome! its also really cool that their fins have their own unique pattern similar to a human thumbprint. never would have thought that. and I love how well protected under laws they are now especially in Hawaii not even being able to fly over one? wow

  7. Ben Anderson says:

    I cannot believe it’s estimated that there are only 2,000 left!!!! That really shocked me and I did not know they didn’t have vocal chords either I always wondered why the biggest animal made the highest pitch sound, it makes sense now =]

  8. Humpback whales are one of my favorite animals. Hawaii is one of my favorite places in the world, as well as a supreme hotspot! I didn’t know that they sing by pushing air out of their naval cavity. I’ve always wondered why they sing, but prefer not to know the answer. It’s a great mystery. I want to someday join the efforts to keep them protected, as there are less and less of them every year and they are such a necessary species to the area of Hawaii. The people of Hawaii hold these gentle, graceful giants close to their hearts and remain a part of the culture as well.
    -Ailish Reilly

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