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North Carolina Week: Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)

Posted on Jan 30, 2008 by in Marine Mammals, Theme Weeks | 18 comments

Megaptera novaeangliae
Number 0113

It’s North Carolina Week at the Daily Mammal, and in fact, next time you’re in Raleigh, you really should visit the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, where, in the Coastal Carolina area, you can see gigantic gorgeous skeletons of several whale species, including this one.

The humpback whale’s Latin name means giant wing of New England. Isn’t that beautiful? The “giant wing” part refers to the whale’s pectoral fins, which are huge. Everything about the humpback whale is huge, actually. They get to about 50 feet long and weigh around 50 tons. They’re known for the beauty and mystery of their songs, which researchers have recently discovered have a complexity we didn’t understand before. In fact, the whales’ vocalizations share some basic elements with human languages. One neat thing is that whales in different parts of the world have completely different songs, and the songs in a given area develop and evolve collaboratively.

At one time, we had hunted humpbacks almost to extinction. In the ’60s, the world adopted an international whaling ban that brought them back from the edge. Now, some countries have begun whaling again, and it was only because of the critical outcry of dismay that Japan last month postponed its plans to kill dozens of humpback whales for “research.”

Take this mammal home with you!


  1. Gorgeous. Just gorgeous.

    You really outdid yourself on this one.

    Readers who haven’t done so should click on the image to see a closer view. Of course, that’s true for all your drawings.

  2. I love your artwork! I am the curator of mammals at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and would love to meet you while you are in the state. Would be happy to show you our collections. Something to consider is that there will be a live groundhog here at the museum for our groundhog day festivities.

    I would love to hear from you:

  3. I would love to see (and purchase) a woodland jumping mouse, Napaeozapus insignis!

  4. I have always loved humpback whales. I didn’t know that they lived in NC.

    That is a beautiful drawing, especiallly at the larger size. Your drawings are great.

  5. Fabulous whales! I adore whales and am lucky enough to live so close to the ocean where I can see them all summer.

  6. What a great picture. I really liked the way you showed the mother and baby,

    I put the comment on wrong post.

  7. love it!

  8. love it!

  9. love it!

  10. love it!

  11. love it!

  12. love it!

  13. love it!

  14. love it!

  15. love it!

  16. love it!

  17. love it!

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