Subject: Humpback threats

Phil Clapham (
Wed, 20 Jan 1999 07:46:33 -0500

Hi Mike:

Today the greatest threat to the humpback whale is probably entanglement
in fishing gear.  Humpbacks get tangled up in nets sometimes, and
sometimes they either die on the spot; in most cases, they drag the gear
away with them and if it's heavy enough it can slow them down so much
that they can't move or feed properly and they starve to death.  The
Center for Coastal Studies in Massachusetts rescues entangled humpbacks
and other whales from entanglements whenever they find out about them.

Humpbacks are doing very well, though.  Even though their populations
were reduced greatly by whaling, they seem to be making a big comeback
in most places.  In the North Atlantic, we recently estimated the
population at 10,000 animals, and it seems to be growing.

The Subject of your email was "predators", so maybe you were asking
about this.  Humpbacks have only one real predator that anyone knows
about - killer whales.  I think it's pretty unusual for a killer whale
to actually kill a humpback, but lots of humpbacks have teeth marks on
their tails or bodies from killer whale attacks.  I suspect that the
only time a humpback is killed is when it's a very young calf (baby),
but actual reports of such attacks are pretty rare.

Phil Clapham wrote:
> Hi.
>          My names Mike. My class is doing a research paper on the humpback
> whale. And I'd like to know what the greatest threar to the humpback is.
> Thankyou for your time.
>                                 Mike.


Phillip J. Clapham, Ph.D.
Northeast Fisheries Science Center
166 Water Street
Woods Hole, MA 02543

tel (508) 495-2316
fax (508) 495-2066