HumpBack Science

Classify humpback whales like a marine biologist

Plants, animals, and other living things are classified scientifically into different categories. These categories start broad (containing many, many organisms) and get more ‘specific’ until you get down to the species. This way of categorising in science is known as TAXONOMY. Here’s a great mnemonic to remember all the categories:

Domain                      –           Do

Kingdom                     –           Koalas

Phylum                       –           Prefer

Class                           –           Chocolate

Order                          –           Or

Family                         –           Fruit

Genus                         –           Generally

Species                       –           Speaking

Example: You might have heard humans referred to as ‘Homo sapiens’, which is the genus Homo and species sapiens.

All dolphins, whales and porpoises belong to the order ‘Cetacea’, which is why we refer to them as cetaceans.

 Cetaceans are split into two suborders – Mysticetes and Odontocetes.

Mysticetes are the whales that have baleen plates instead of teeth, attached to the upper jaw. Generally larger than the Odontocetes, these whales filter feed; taking large amounts of seawater into their mouths, then pushing the water back out through the baleen, which block the krill, zooplankton, and small fish inside. Mysticetes have a double blowhole and are unable to echolocate like Odontocetes.

Mysticete females grow larger than their male counterparts.

Odontocetes have teeth in some form or another, whether that be the long, singular tusk on male narwhals, or the small, 70 + teeth in bottlenose dolphins. Odontocetes can vary enormously in size and possess a single blowhole. They generally form larger and more complex social groups than Mysticetes.

What about humpback whales?

Humpback whales are Mysticetes, in the family Balaenopteridae like the blue whale, fin whale and minke whales (among others). The humpbacks are alone in their genus, with the full scientific name Megaptera novaeangliae. (Note: always italicise scientific names, or underline if writing by hand).

So, would you expect a female Megaptera novaeangliae to be larger or smaller than a male?


Carwardine M (2020) ‘Handbook of whales, dolphins and porpoises of the world’, Princeton University Press.

Whales spy hopping Busselton Western Australia
Whale Reports

New calves, “comp pod” & strange pigmentation

19/07/2022 it was a cold start to the day with a brisk cold gentle Northerly breeze blowing , the ocean was flat calm with no swell, and we headed out of Augusta Boat Harbour – straight away there was small splashing in close to shore by the old river mouth at flinders bay , so we headed that way and discovered a Mother with her new Humpack calf which was mainly grey in colour. The little one was practicing tail slapping and Breaching while mum a fully grown 15 metre Humpback lay resting …. a awesome sight to see such a young whale playing safely in the bay for all onboard.

We then decided to let the youngester enjoy playing and Mum resting so quickly moved away , our next target was a pod of 2 Humpbacks which were also resting and moving slowly at about 2 knots through the bay they were doing 6 minute breath holds and would surface close to the boat do the odd pec slap and tail slap, we sat with these 2 for most of the tour as there were plenty of whales in the area doing much the same thing with these 2 being the most interactive.

The afternoon tour started much the same way , this time with another Humpback calf which was alot more darker than the previous one , we watched this mother and calf as the calf did some close passes by the boat, we left these guys and headed seaward coming across one of the stangest pigmentations I have seen in a Humpback whale in the 12 years we have been Whale Wachting, the crew and passengers called her “Zebra” ( see pics below )

We then moved around the Abalone farm and towards Saint Alouran Island discovered in 1772 by louis de St Alouran and here we found a competion pod that were moving at 8 knots at times the 3 super sized Humpback males swam so close they almost went underneath us – all onboard got to witness – Head lunging and lots of pushing and shoving from the big males , we followed them to south east rocks before Heading back to Augusta Boat Harbour.

customer enjoying the strang pigmentation of the Humpback whale
“Zebra” the Humpback as named by our customers onboard for the black and white markings
“Zebra” the Black and White Humpback
Whale Reports

Augusta whale sightings 16/07/22

Saturday produced some cold north eastery winds and scatterd rain with plenty of customers ringing to see if we where still heading out, as it was pouring in Margaret River and Busselton. Augusta managed to dodge the rain until you guessed it Departure Time 😉

We left the harbour and spotted a couple of sleepy Humpbacks doing 7 minute breathe holds , so we left these tired Humpbacks in peace, moving around the Abalone farm we spotted some solid spouts of approx 4 Humpbacks, well this was us for the rest of the tour!

The 4 turned into 6 … a new mum and calf along with an escort the passengers named the Escort Oreo due to the strange colourings of the whale, the white pigment made it easy to spot in the cold frigid water. We escorted these whales to Southeast Rocks where they provided some close passes and a farewell Breach which was a crowd pleaser. This was the end of the tour as we headed back to Augusta Boat Harbour with over twenty Humpbacks sighted for the morning.

The afternoon saw the wind drop to a gentle breeze and change direction to the south west with 6 lucky passengers picking up on a pod of fast moving socialising whales giving close passes and under boat swims. We picked these guys up on the Eastern side of the Abalone farm, we follwed them through the Abalone farm and all of a sudden 3 breaches from another whale on the western side of the farm , all of sudden the speed increased direction changed and we were in pursuit , we got to the area were the breaches occured and in no time a competion pod the males were in pursuit of a lady vying for attention ,these whales headed straight for the gap in the reef where two oceans meet what a sight , we abonded the chase as the swell was picking up due to the water getting shallower , on the search for our next target we picked up a large pod of inshore Bottlenose Dolphins right in the middle of Flinders Bay , they Bow rode the vessel making everybodys day especially the young lady who said it was the best day of her life

Breaching Humpback in Flinders Bay Augusta
whales swimming close to vessel in Flinders Bay Augusta

Experience Tourism in the South West of Western Australia

The South West of WA offers everything from vineyards to areas that have histories that read like story books, like the Busselton Jetty. Whether you’re looking for a great vacation spot or somewhere to relax with the family during a day trip, the Busselton area is a tourism hot spot that you truly have to experience.

Discover Busselton and the Cape Region

Located only 230km to the south of Perth, Busselton is situated perfectly for visitors to experience everything the Cape Region has to offer. Whether spending time along the Margaret River at one of the numerous wineries, or enjoying the delights of Geographe Bay, there’s something everyone of all ages will enjoy.

Enjoy a Day on the Bay

The beaches in Busselton boast golden sands and waters that are always crystal clear. There are over 30km of white beaches, and the location’s position blocks the harshest winds so visitors can experience watersports, snorkeling, sailing, windsurfing and more. Load up the fishing rods and skis, and head out on the water for an enjoyable afternoon. There are also plenty of charters that provide memorable experiences with marine life throughout the region.

Busselton Sights for Everyone

For those who prefer something other than water, head deeper into the community and take in the sights of the sheep and cattle farms, which are part of the main industries in the area. The wineries in Busselton produce award-winning varieties of table wines, and allow an interesting opportunity for guests to enjoy fine dining and tastings throughout the day.

Those visiting in the spring will enjoy the beautiful landscape, which fills with pink vine, kangaroo paws, spider orchids and many other wildflowers, all resulting in spectacular views of the gorgeous colors that only nature can provide. There are also plenty of self-drive tours available in the area, which lets you experience the town at your own pace.

The Busselton Jetty

Busselton Jetty Train Busselton Western Australia No visit to the South West of WA is complete without experiencing the Busselton Jetty. The jetty, which is nearly 2km long, was started in 1865, with construction stopping in 1965. Though it was abandoned by the local government in 1972, and shows the results of damage caused by cyclones and fires that have marred it over the years, the Busselton Jetty now provides guests with a wealth of experiences.

Spend the day strolling along its length, or just drop a line in the water and while away an afternoon in relaxation. Those looking for something more active can take advantage of the warm waters and experience the scuba diving spots that have become some of the most popular in the area.

The Busselton Jetty Underwater Observatory offers an unforgettable experience for groups of all ages. Located 8 meters below sea level, the Observatory offers the rare chance for visitors to see 300 different types of marine life in one location.

For a truly unforgettable experience when visiting the Busselton Jetty, book a whale watching tour with All Sea Charters. Not only will you get to see the majestic humpback and Southern rights, you just might be lucky enough to catch sight of a blue whale. In addition, you’ll also receive 15% off at Equinox after booking your tour, where you can dine on dishes prepared with fresh ingredients from the Margaret River region.