• Winter light on the Fairweather Range

    Glacier Bay

    National Park & Preserve Alaska

Humpback Whales in Glacier Bay

Humpback in Glacier Bay
 

Giants of the Bay
Seeing a Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) in Glacier Bay is an experience many visitors never forget. The true giants of Glacier Bay's waters, these endangered animals are 40-50ft (12-16m) long and weigh 40 tons (36,000kg). With a simple breath, the Humpback Whale expels air at over 300mph (480km) creating a cloudy column of vaporized air that can be seen for miles. For their size, Humpback Whales are remarkably acrobatic and stun visitors with their explosive full-body breaching, pectoral fin slapping, tail-lobbing and lunge-feeding maneuvers. Humpback Whales get their name from their typical diving pattern-arching their back before their final or terminal dive.

They Come Hungry
Humpback Whales travel to Glacier Bay for one reason-food. Having fasted their entire winter in places like Hawaii or Mexico, these massive mammals spend their entire summer gorging themselves on the small schooling fish that often concentrate in Glacier Bay's cold, nutrient rich waters. In a single gulp, a Humpback Whale takes in more water (15,000 gal.) than a typical home uses in 5 months. A whale's tongue alone weighs 1 ton, which the whale uses to press all that water through its built-in, food-filter-its baleen. Feeding like this almost 23 hours a day, a single Humpback can consume almost ½ ton of food each and every day!

Sanctuary For Whales
Glacier Bay is a Humpback Whale sanctuary. In the park's waters, Humpback Whales benefit from some of the strongest protections found anywhere on our planet. Once in rapid decline, the number of whales spotted in Glacier Bay is growing every year. What's more, scientists have been studying Humpback Whales in Glacier Bay for decades. Thanks to this research, we continue to learn more about the fascinating life of this magnificent, endangered animal.

 
Whale 68 Re-articulation Project!
Glacier Bay is working on a "whale of a display!" Follow along as we clean, re-articulate, and display a massive humpback whale skeleton.
 
Killer whale articulation project
The skeleton of a young killer whale is being re-articulated and placed on permanent display in the Gustavus Community Library.
 

See Also:

Glacier Bay Humpback Whale Fact Sheet

Glacier Bay Whale Photogallery

Killer Whale Articulation Project
Installing a killer whale in the Gustavus Community Library!

The Blubber Bonanza
Dead humpback whale provides a feast for hungry scavengers!

Whale Tales
Glacier Bay Humpbacks in the News!

2011 Glacier Bay Humpback Report NEW
How many were sighted, feeding hotspots, distribution, trends

Underwater Acoustic Monitoring in Glacier Bay

Whale Tail Matching Worksheet:
Can YOU identify the matching flukes?

Listen to Whale Sounds
Moos, Whuups, Grunts, and Songs

Humpback Whale Life History, Behavior, and Facts

Middle School Scientists Video: Underwater Acoustics
Part of the Glacier Bay Middle School Scientist curriculum

Humpback Whales Natural History
From the ADF&G Wildlife Notebook Series

 

 

 

Did You Know?

Blueberries

When blueberries come to fruit, black bears will bulk themselves up for winter feeding on these carbohydrate-rich berries.