U.S. Department of Commerce


Date of this Version



Published in MARINE MAMMAL SCIENCE, 25(2): 416–419 (April 2009).


Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) occur in all major oceans of the world, where most populations typically migrate between high-latitude summer feeding areas and low-latitude wintering grounds (Mackintosh 1942, Clapham and Mead 1999). Historical and contemporary data indicate that a humpback whale population spends the winter breeding season (typically June–November; Martins et al. 2001) in waters over the continental shelf off the eastern coast of South America (5°– 21°S; Williamson 1975, Zerbini et al. 2004, Andriolo et al. 2006). This population migrates through oceanic waters to summer subantarctic feeding destinations near South Georgia (∼54°S, 36°W) and the South Sandwich Islands (∼58°S, 26°W) in the Scotia Sea (Zerbini et al. 2006).