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Humpback Whales

The humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) is a marine mammal belonging to the cetacean order. Like all marine mammals, it breathes air at the ocean surface through its blowhole, the respiratory opening located on top of its head.

The humpback whale is one of the largest species of baleen whales, with adults measuring between 12 and 16 meters in length and weighing between 25 and 30 tonnes. Their massive body is characterized by long pectoral fins that can reach up to one-third of their total length.

These whales embark on a spectacular migration from Antarctica to French Polynesia for breeding and calving, covering a round trip of over 12,000 kilometers. The prime period to observe them in Polynesia generally extends from July to November when the warm and shallow waters of the region provide a safe environment for the birth and nurturing of whale calves.


An interesting characteristic of humpback whales in Polynesia is their feeding behavior during this period. In Antarctica, they consume approximately one ton of krill per day. However, when these whales migrate to Polynesia, they do not feed. During this time, they rest, breed, and dedicate their energy to raising their young, rather than searching for food. Scientific studies conducted in the South Pacific have noted the utilization of certain areas along their migratory routes as “feeding opportunities”, such as seamounts.

It is fascinating to observe these majestic humpback whales in the waters of French Polynesia. Their epic migration, complex social behavior, and imposing size make them a true wonder of nature. Protecting their habitat and providing them with calm and preserved waters is essential to ensure their survival and perpetuate the awe they inspire. Moreover, their role within the oceans is crucial to the proper functioning of the marine ecosystem. Protecting the great cetaceans of our oceans is a way to safeguard the entirety of marine biodiversity.

For more information, please visit the website of the Oceania association directly: