Humpback Whale vs Blue Whale: Who Wins And Comparative Analysis


Humpback whales and blue whales are two of the largest whale species. Let us compare and contrast the two.

Humpback whales are smaller than blue whales and are of a deeper blue color. Humpbacks also weigh much less and carry a hump on their backs which makes them stand out. On the other hand, blue whales have a mottled body, are bigger, and live longer. 

There are a lot of questions asked about humpback whales and blue whales. Let us together look at some of the most commonly asked questions. 

Image Credits: “Humpback Whale” by rjshade is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Image Credits: “Blue Whales on the Surface by Dan Shapiro (NOAA)” by pingnews.com is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

Are blue whales and humpback whales similar?

Both blue whales and humpback whales are popular baleen whale species. But are they similar? Let’s find out.

No, blue whales are larger than humpback whales. In fact, they are around three times the size of humpback whales. In addition, blue whales have a more streamlined body and have a blue-gray coloration, whereas humpbacks have a strong blue hue and a characteristic hump on their backs. Humpbacks also have a smaller dorsal fin.

One of the best ways to distinguish blue whales from humpback whales is to look at their dorsal fin, which is smaller than humpbacks. In addition, you can look for flippers on the humpback whale’s body as well as the distinguishing hump.

Humpback whale vs blue whale height

As we have mentioned earlier, humpbacks are smaller than blue whales. Let us explore all details about their height difference together.

Blue whales are approximately three times as big as humpback whales. On average, a fully grown humpback whale can have a height of 39 to 52 feet. However, blue whales are much bigger, with an average height of 70 to 80 feet. There have also been records of a blue whale in the South Atlantic growing up to 110 feet.

The largest humpback whale that was ever recorded was a female, and she had grown up to 89 feet. However, most humpbacks are much smaller and do not grow beyond 50-52 feet. 

Humpback whale vs blue whale weight

Needless to say, humpbacks and blue whales will also differ in terms of weight. Together, let us explore more in this regard.

Humpback whales measure anywhere between 25,000 to 30,000 kg or 25 to 30 tonnes, whereas blue whales are much heavier, weighing a whopping 130,000 to 150,000 kg or 130 to 150 tonnes. As some of you might already know, adult blue whales are considered to be the largest animals that have ever been seen on the planet. 

Apart from blue whales, we have fin whales who weigh around 48,000 kg or 48 to 50 tonnes and are considered one of the largest whale species.

Humpback whales vs blue whales appearance

Image Credits: “Breaching Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)” by Gregory ‘Slobirdr’ Smith is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Image Credits: “Tagging blue whales” by Oregon State University is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Both humpback whales and blue whales have a distinguishing appearance. Allow us to tell you more about it. 

Humpback whales have a distinguishing hump, black dorsal fin, and long pectoral fins, whereas blue whales are slightly more slender with a gray-blue appearance and mottled body. Female humpback whales can grow up to 52 feet, whereas most adult males reach 44 feet. In the case of blue whales, they can grow up to 80 feet or more.

While it might not be possible for a novice to tell the difference between the two whale species, you can always look out for the hump and tubercles, which makes humpback whales unique.

Humpback whales vs blue whales habitat

Whales are of various types, and each type has a specific habitat requirement. Let us learn more about the habitat of humpbacks and blue whales.

Humpback whales prefer living along the coastline of major oceans, whereas blue whales are found in all major ocean bodies of the world except the arctic region. Humpbacks are also found close to shores and harbors often. These are migratory creatures who can travel around 5,000 miles to find suitable resting grounds.

Even blue whales migrate to find suitable feeding and breeding grounds. However, not all blue whales migrate.

Humpback whales vs blue whales predators

Image Credits: “Killer Whale jumping” by milan.boers is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

Although blue whales and humpback whales are large animals, they have predators too. Let us learn more about them.

Humpback whales have several predators, including orcas, large sharks, and false killer whales, whereas blue whales occasionally fall victim to killer whales. However, despite having more than one predator, humpback whales are seldom attacked by these animals, and most of the recorded attacks are on younger whales. 

The large size of blue whales protects them against most attacks. Although killer whales are known predators, there have not been many documented attacks on blue whales.

Humpback whales vs blue whales diet

As you might already know, humpbacks and blue whales have different diet requirements. Allow us to take you through it. 

Humpback whales feed on krill, plankton, and small schooling fishes like anchovies and herrings, whereas blue whales primarily feed on krill. Since both these species are baleen animals and do not have teeth to bite into their prey, they sift through large volumes of water and derive their food. 

We must mention here that humpback whales eat twice a day during the feeding season, which lasts for about 120 days. Similarly, blue whales eat for around 100 days in a year.

Humpback whales vs blue whales lifespan

There is a major difference in the lifespan of humpback whales and blue whales. Allow us to tell you more in this regard.

Humpback whales have a shorter lifespan and live up to 45 to 50 years, whereas blue whales have a longer lifespan and live up to 80 to 90 years in the wild. Whales that live in captivity have a shorter lifespan. Since blue whales and humpbacks are large animals, they are never kept in captivity and can roam around in the wild.

If people want to spot humpbacks or blue whales, there are several whale watching tours that allow you to observe these whales in their natural habitat.

Conclusion 

Humpback whales and blue whales are two of the most fascinating oceanic creatures. With their distinguishing appearance, unique diet requirement, and large size, they have made quite a name for themselves in the marine ecosystem. Today, several steps are being taken by environmentalists and government bodies to ensure these whales are not exploited for commercial gains. 

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