The humpback whale, 11-19 m in length, is a baleen whale, like the blue, fin, sei and minke whale.
The humpback whale primarily feeds on plankton, krill, but also small fish, such as capelin and is easily identified by its enormously long flippers, which can be up to 5 or 6 m in length. The humpback whale is playful, occasionally raising the flippers to slap the water surface, rolling over or leaping out of the water. Head and flippers are covered with barnacles, which will attach soon after birth and remain there during it’s lifetime.
The powerful spout, 2,5-3 m, lasts for several seconds and the breathing cycle is 3-4 times before deep diving. The humpback whale remains underwater for 5-7 minutes at a time, though often much longer. It nearly always raises the fluke before diving, revealing the distinctive black and white pattern, which distinguishes individuals and is used for identification.
The Northern Atlantic humpback whale migrates to the breeding grounds in the Caribbean. In summertime, it frequents shallow waters around Iceland and often comes into the fjords and bays in search of food. The population size in Icelandic waters is uncertain, but is estimated to be around 1,500-1,800 individuals.