Whale Facts

The Gulf of Maine is home to a wide variety of marine life.  The whale watches we work on focus on finding cetaceans – whales, dolphins and porpoises.  There are several cetacean species most commonly-seen in our area, including fin, humpback and minke whales, and Atlantic white-sided dolphins. Occasionally, we’ll see other species such as harbor porpoise, sei whales, North Atlantic right whales, or even blue or sperm whales.

Individual Species Information

Humpback Whale  
Megaptera novaeangliae (“long-winged New Englander”)
Length: 40-50 feet Weight: 30 tons
Cool Whale Fact : Male humpback whales “sing” on their winter breeding grounds in the Caribbean. Every male sings the same song, and the song changes slightly from year to year.

Finback (Fin) Whale
Balaenoptera physalus (“Bellows fin whale”)
Length: 60-80 feet
Weight: 50-70 tons
Cool Whale Fact: Finbacks are the fastest whales in the world, sometimes reaching speeds of 35 mph during short bursts of swimming.

Minke Whale
Balaenoptera acuturostrata (“Sharp snouted whale”)
Length: 20-30 feet
Weight: 6-8 tons
Cool Whale Fact: Nickname is “little piked whale” which was given to the minke whale by a British zoologist who claimed that the sharp, pointed snout “is like that of the Pike fish.”

North Atlantic Right Whale
Eubalaena glacialis (“True whale in icy water”)
Length: 58 feet
Weight: 100 tons
Cool Whale Fact: The head of a right whale is covered with large, white colored growths called callosities. These rough patches of skin correspond to where humans have hair on their face. The location of these callosities is different for each whale and allows scientists to identify individuals.

Atlantic White-sided Dolphin
Lagenorhynchus acutus
Length: 7-9 feet
Weight: 400-600 pounds
Cool Whale Fact: Qhite-sided dolphins often gather in groups, or pods, up to several hundred. When feeding, dolphins will work cooperatively within these pods to herd prey. Dolphins find their food by echolocation, or producing clicking sounds and interpreting the returning echo.

Harbor Porpoise 
Phocoena phocoena (“Pig fish”)
Length: 4-6 feet
Weight: 150 pounds
Cool Porpoise Fact: The largest threat to the future survival of harbor porpoises is the accidental entanglement in gill nets set on the bottom of the ocean floor.