Author Information

Meghan Wert


The humpback whale (Megaptera novaengliae) is an endangered species of baleen whale that feeds in the waters of the Gulf of Maine during the spring, summer and fall. The worldwide population of humpback whales ranges from 60,000 to 80,000 individuals and the population within the Gulf of Maine is estimated between 9,000 to 11,000. Humpback whales are a large baleen whale that reaches an average length of 40 to 50 feet and a weight of 35 to 40 tons. Although protected worldwide since the International Whaling Commission in 1964, this population has increased slowly and is still considered a fraction of the pre-whaling population estimates. There are numerous factors that are responsible for this slow recovery and many related to life history parameters for this species. Humpbacks reach sexual maturity at age 4 or 5. Reproductively mature females produce a single calf every 2 or 3 years and invest a large amount of time and energy with their calves offshore. And the gestation period for this species is close to a year.

Note on the Author

Meg Wert is a senior Environmental Biology major with minors in Chemistry and Earth Science. She was awarded a 2007 ATP Spring Semester grant and a 2007 ATP Summer grant to complete her research work with humpback whales under the supervision of Dr. John Jahoda and Carol “Krill” Carson. She has also been given the opportunity to be a guest student at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute working with Dr. Saccocia from BSC and Dr. Seewald from WHOI. This work ended with a 5 week research cruise to the Mid-Atlantic to study the chemistry of hydrothermal vent fluid.

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