The humpback whale can reach a maximum length of 17 metres, with the female larger than the male. The size and weight is also impressive. A 15m humpback weighs more than 41,000kg and its heart 190kg.

Humpback Whale and Humans

The family Balaenopteridae consists of six worldwide species, including the Blue Whale and Humpback Whale. Overhunting of the Blue Whale has reduced its numbers to the verge of extinction, while, according to the IUCN
the Humpback Whale is classified as Least Concern.

Historically the Humpback Whale was one of the first whales to be hunted. It tends to stay in coastal waters, especially during its migrations, and was easily available to land-based whalers. It is a fierce fighter though, and so it was not until the advent of the explosive harpoon that it was killed in large numbers. Humpback whales sink when harpooned, and their oil is not of as good quality as that of the right whale, but a 15 metre humpback can yield up to 33 barrels (5,455 litres) of oil, so it was still a good catch. Its meat could also be eaten, or used to make pet foods, its bones could be used to make glue or bonemeal fertilizer and its fat for soap production. Its whalebone was used in corset stays, and the baleen was made into hairbrushes.

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