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September 22, 2006
Humpback Whales are large marine mammals, belonging to the baleen family. They inhabit the waters of major oceans worldwide and are situated near coastlines most of the year. Every year, from July to October, the whales complete a migration from their feeding grounds in Antarctica to Tonga. Here they give birth to their calves and perform courtship. The breeding pattern for females is every couple of years with a gestation period lasting 11.5 months. Newborn calves are nursed for up to a year and are considered fully mature at ten years.
Adults typically only feed during the summer months and live off fat reserves during the winter. Fully mature whales can weigh up to 40 tons and grow anywhere from 48 to 62.5 feet (14.6 to 19.0 m). Scientists believe wild Humpback Whales possess a unique form of communication, executed through the use of songs. Humpback Whales produce complex sounds similar to moans, howls or cries for many hours.