2 Types of WHALES Found in New Hampshire (2024)

What types of whales can you see in New Hampshire?

Types of whales in New Hampshire

Whale-watching is one of the most exciting adventures I can think of! These enormous, fascinating creatures have captured the imagination of many nature lovers.

Below, you will find pictures and descriptions of the whales found in New Hampshire. I’ve also included RANGE MAPS and fun facts about each species.

Although there are many interesting facts about whales, I kept each description brief to cover all the species. So, you may want to consider purchasing the book below if you want more information.

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2 WHALES in New Hampshire!


#1. Humpback Whale

  • Megaptera novaeangliae

Whales in New Hampshire

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults can reach 60 feet and weigh up to 40 tons.
  • Their coloring is black, with white markings on the belly and pectoral fins.
  • The fins are wavy, and the nose is covered in bumpy protrusions. The belly is often ridged.

This species is one of the most wide-ranging whales in New Hampshire.

The same whales that can be observed feeding in the waters around Alaska in summer travel to Hawaii during the winter months! Humpback Whales follow the same migration patterns year after year, making them easy to spot on whale-watching expeditions.

Whale watchers love to see Humpback Whales exhibit their showy behavior. They often breach high out of the water, slapping their bodies and fins against the surface. Scientists believe that the loud sounds produced by their breaching are a form of communication with other whales.

Krill, a type of tiny crustacean very similar to shrimp, is the primary food source of these gigantic whales. Humpback Whales, like the other great whales, lack teeth. Instead, they have hair-like plates called baleen that hang down from their upper jaws. Whales take huge gulps of water into their mouths and capture thousands of krill. Then they filter the water back out through the baleen plates, trapping the krill inside.


#2. Fin Whale

  • Balaenoptera physalus

New Hampshire whales

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 75 to 85 feet long and weigh 40 to 80 tons.
  • The coloring is light gray-brown across the back and white on the underside, and a wavy pattern forms where the two colors meet.
  • This species has a remarkably slender, streamlined body for such a large whale.

Fin Whales are the fastest swimmers of the great whales. This ability likely evolved to help them evade predation, especially by orcas that work together to hunt and kill young or vulnerable individuals.

Their speed is unnecessary for their hunting needs, though, because Fin Whales feed on krill, schools of tiny fish, and squid. Instead, they use a technique known as lunge feeding to speed through a tightly-grouped ball of prey, swallowing as many as possible

Fin Whales were hunted to near extinction during the 19th and 20th centuries. Thanks to their fast swimming pace and preference for offshore waters, they avoided predation during the primitive years of whaling. Unfortunately, as whaling techniques modernized and mechanized, they became victims of the industry.

But as conservation of whale species became a priority, the population of Fin Whales rebounded somewhat. Nevertheless, they are still in danger of extinction throughout their range.


Do you want to learn about LAND MAMMALS found in New Hampshire?

Check out this field guide!


Which of these whales have you seen in New Hampshire?

Let us know in the comments!

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