| Megaptera novaeangliae
family Balaenopteridae - baleen whales
The genus name for the humpback whale, Megaptera means big wings, a reference to their unusually long pectoral fins.. The specific name refers to New England in the US.
Over summer, Humpbacks feed on krill and small fish in polar waters. In winter they move to tropical waters to breed and give birth. On the east coast of Australia, the whales generally start their northerly migration in June and their return journey with their newborn calves continues until early November. Whale watching boat tours are available out Brunswick Heads. Local observers have noted that whale behaviour depends on prevailing weather conditions. On calm sunny days whales are likely to lounge around on their backs (bottom right) and breaching (top left) is more likely in windy conditions.
A commercial whaling station operated in Byron Bay form 1956 to 1962. During that period over 1,100 whales were processed at this station alone. Many more were taken at other places on the east coast. The industry collapsed due to over exploitation. There has been some recovery of populations since. However, Japanese boats continue to hunt and kill whales in the name of 'research". More about helping to protect whales >>
Individual whales can be identified by the markings on their flukes (tails) more>>