Nature conservation

Threatened species

Humpback Whale - profile

Indicative distribution

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The areas shown in pink and/purple are the sub-regions where the species or community is known or predicted to occur. They may not occur thoughout the sub-region but may be restricted to certain areas. ( click here to see geographic restrictions). The information presented in this map is only indicative and may contain errors and omissions.
Scientific name: Megaptera novaeangliae
Conservation status in NSW: Not listed
Commonwealth status: Not listed
Gazetted date: 25 Nov 2022
Profile last updated: 31 Mar 2023


Large marine mammal that can grow to 16 m in length. They have a stocky body with a broad rounded head, a small dorsal fin and extremely long flippers, which can measure up to one -third of the animal's total length. There is a noticeable rounded projection near the tip of the lower jaw and a series of knobbly protuberances on the head, jaws and flippers. The back and sides of the body are black as is the uderside, though it is more usual for the belly to have some white on it. The flippers and underside in some of the tail-flukes are usually mostly white. Humpback whales are able to mke spectacular leaps clear of water and also sometimes swim on their sides with one long flipper held out of the water.


Oceanic and coastal waters worldwide.

Habitat and ecology

  • The population of Australia's east coast migrates from summer cold-water feeding grounds in Subantarctic waters to warm-water winter breeding grounds in the central Great Barrier Reef.
  • They are regularly observed in NSW waters in June and July, on northward migration and October and November, on southward migration.

Regional distribution and habitat

Click on a region below to view detailed distribution, habitat and vegetation information.


Recovery strategies

Activities to assist this species

IBRA Bioregion IBRA Subregion Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region