Humpback whales

Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)

Humpback whale fluke

Identifying features

  • Visible dorsal fin, 2/3 of the way along its body
  • Knobbly rostrum (snout-like projection)
  • Pectoral fins, approximately 1/3 the length of the body
  • Generally dark in colour with areas of white on pec fins, belly (ventral surface) and sides (flank)

Maximum body length

Adult 16 m


  • Separate populations migrate along the east and west Australian coasts during the cooler months
  • Individuals typically migrate west to east between May and early August
  • Humpbacks can tend to be more surface-active, which can include breaching, on windy days.
  • High vantage sites including headlands such as the Nobbies, Pyramid Rock and Cape Woolamai, Phillip Island and Cape Schank and Flinders, Mornington Peninsula, increase your chances of seeing whales if in the area

How you can help with humpback whale science?

Report your sightings via our sightings page and we will share it with the Two Bays Whale Project. The Two Bays Whale Project is a Victorian-based citizen science program that has been documenting the presence of larger cetaceans in Port Phillip, Western Port and the Bass coast since 2015, with records going back to the 1980’s.

Further information

More information on humpback whales in east Australian waters can be found at