Humpback whales (Megapters Novaengliae) are a species of large baleen whale that can be found in all of the world’s oceans. These incredible whales breed in warm tropical waters and migrate to cold nutrient-rich waters to feed. Showing up in the spring months here in the Santa Barbara Channel, these whales will remain here until the late fall/ early winter taking advantage of huge krill and anchovy stocks that call the channel home.

Humpback whales are easily recognizable by their distinctive features. They typically range from 40 to 50 feet in length and can weigh up to 40 tons, with a long, streamlined body that tapers to a powerful tail fluke. Their most notable characteristic is the large hump on their back right before their dorsal fin giving them their name. They are known for long pectoral fins, which can reach up to a third of their body length, making them the largest and heaviest arm in the animal kingdom.

Known for their aerial acrobatics, humpbacks are the most active of the great whales. They’re the ones you’ll see breaching out of the water or vertically lungefeeding at the surface. 


SCARLET, a large female humpback whale, who has exclusively been documented in Santa Barbara waters, has quite the story to tell. Her body bears the scars from her past. Propellor marks from a vessel reveal permanent scar tissue. Scarlet was struck by a vessel. She is just one of the thousands of whales struck by large vessels yearly. However, she’s one of the lucky ones. She has survived her encounter with a vessel which hasn’t changed her behavior. She remains one of the most curious whales we’ve ever seen. 

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