Humpback Whale Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Kristina Washington-Morris

Kristina has taught a variety of elementary classes and has a master's degree in elementary education.

Humpback whales are aquatic animals that have perfected underwater singing. This lesson explores humpback whales and their life cycle, diet, and special behaviors.

What Are Humpback Whales?

Have you ever been swimming with a friend and tried to chat together underwater? Humans don't have the right type of vocal chords or lungs for underwater pool conversations. Humpback whales are known for being able to sing loud, long songs under the water. This is just one interesting behavior of the humpback whale, though! Let's learn more about these massive whales!

A Humpback Whale
A Humpback Whale

Humpback whales are large marine mammals found in oceans all over the world. Humpback whales are part of the baleen whale family. Baleen whales have large plates hanging in their mouths instead of teeth. These plates are made from the same material as your fingernails and are called baleen. They help these large whales, like the humpback, eat enough food to sustain their enormous bodies. Baleen kind of works like a great big push broom. When humpback whales eat, they swallow lots of food and water. The water flows out of the baleen plates while the food is trapped inside the mouth of the whale.

Humpback Whale Baleen
Humpback Whale Baleen

Speaking of enormous bodies, humpback whales can grow to be 50 feet long. That is about as long as five cars lined up! Humpback whales are known for having very long flippers that look like a bird's wings when they are swimming. These flippers can be up to 16 feet long. Their flukes (tail fins) are also huge-up to 18 feet wide. Humpback whales can weigh 25-40 tons. This means a humpback whale probably couldn't fit inside your classroom!

Habitat and Eating Habits of Humpback Whales

Have you ever heard someone say they are as hungry as a bear? Well, humpback whales are way hungrier than bears. Humpback whales need to eat lots of small fish and krill to maintain their huge size. Krill are small shrimp-like crustaceans found in open ocean waters. A single humpback whale can eat up to 3,000 pounds of food in a single day! That's about the weight of an average car. People should say they are as hungry as a humpback whale.

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