Characteristics and Origin of Name
The Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) is a baleen whale of the family Megapteridae, which can grow to a length of 13-14 meters and a weight of 30 tons (about 500 humans) as an adult. Characteristic body parts include long pectoral fins, which are unique among large aquatic mammals, the head, which occupies about one-third of their body length, and the hump-like prominence in the front of the dorsal fin.


Japanese name: Zatoukujira

The Japanese name “Zatoukujira” was given to the whale because the roundness of its back resembles that of a Buddhist priest carrying a biwa (Japanese short-necked lute) on his back.

”Zatou” is the official name of a biwa Buddhist priest who lived in the Muromachi period (1333-1573), a blind man with a shaved head whose occupation was to perform arts such as biwa, koto, and shamisen (other types of traditional Japanese instruments), as well as anma (traditional massage) and acupuncture.


English name: Humpback Whale 

The humpback whale was named after its hump-shaped back.


Scientific name: Megaptera novaeangliae

The genus name, Megaptera, means “long wing,” and the species name, novaeangliae, also means “long wing” adopted in the New England region.


Habitat of the North Pacific Ocean

Depending on the season of the year, humpback whales spend their time in two separate areas: their breeding grounds and their feeding grounds, periodically moving between the two areas. In winter, they mate, give birth, and raise their young in the warm waters in lower latitudes, and in summer, they feed in the cold waters of higher latitudes where food is abundant.


In the North Pacific, there are three groups

Eastern North Pacific Group: The Revillagigedo Islands in Mexico or around the western Mexican coast (breeding grounds) and California (feeding grounds)

Central North Pacific Group: Hawaii (breeding grounds), Alaska (feeding grounds)

Western North Pacific Group: Ogasawara and Okinawa (breeding grounds) => Recently, it has been found that they can go as far as the Philippines too.In recent years, it has been found that their breeding grounds can also be found in the Philippines. Their feeding grounds are thought to be in the vicinity around the Sea of Okhotsk up to the Bering Sea, but there are only a few recent records to prove this.

Pink: winter breeding grounds  Blue: summer feeding grounds