Megaptera novaeangliae (big-winged New Englanders), or humpbacks, are about the size of a school bus and can reach up to 19 metres in length and weigh up to 48,100 kilos.
These filter-feeding, toothless whales are recognizable because of the distinctive knobs or tubercles on their heads and by their spectacular breaching displays.
Each has unique markings on their underbellies.
The males are also known for their haunting and melodic vocalizations that can go on for hours and be heard up to 30 kilometres away.
Females don’t sing, which has led researchers at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to conclude that the males’ singing is done to attract potential mates.
Antarctic humpbacks follow strict migratory routes and travel up to 26,000 kilometres each year, moving to the tropical waters off the west coast of Ecuador and Colombia to mate and breed during the winter, returning to feed in the summer.
In the past 100 years, over two billion baleen whales were killed including over 250,000 humpbacks. Hunted to the brink of extinction, Antarctic humpbacks are a success story and are believed to have rebounded close to pre-whaling population levels. Sources: Monterey Bay Aquarium, Live Science, Dr. Ari Friedlaender
There are two kinds — the Antarctic or southern minke and the common or northern minke. Yet, on at least one occasion, an Antarctic minke has been confirmed as having migrated to the Arctic.
Minkes are among the smallest of the baleen or filter-feeding whales, second only to pygmy right whale. They average “only” 11 metres in length and weigh around 5 tonnes.
Minkes are fast, swimming up to 30 km/h.
In the Antarctic, they tend to stay amid the sea ice, making them hard to track. Sources: Wikipedia, WildWhales.org, IUCN, WhaleFacts.org