What Do Humpback Whales Eat? Discover Their Diverse Diets

Wow, what do humpback whales eat? Have you ever wondered about that? These magnificent creatures roam every ocean on the planet, and you’ll never guess what they feast on! From tiny krill to big fish, these whales have a diverse and tasty menu that keeps them thriving in any environment. It’s truly amazing what they can eat!

In today’s blog post, we will take a look at some essential aspects of what humpback whales eat and why they need such diverse sources of food to thrive.

Here’s the answer: What do humpback whales eat?

Humpback whales are large filter feeders, meaning they strain tiny organisms from the water to get food. Krill is their primary source of nutrition, and they swallow massive amounts of these small shrimp-like creatures daily. They also feast on small fish such as herring, anchovies, and sardines. In addition to these two primary food sources, humpback whales will also eat plankton, squid, and even crustaceans.

What Do Humpback Whales Eat?

Humpback whales need to consume large quantities of food due to their size. They spend up to 8 hours a day foraging for food and can consume up to 3,000 lbs. (1,360 kg) daily. This is the equivalent of roughly 3-5% of their body weight—an impressive feat for any animal!

The diet of humpback whales also helps them survive in different environments. Depending on where they migrate for food or breeding grounds, they can adapt to different water temperatures, salinities, and depths. A truly remarkable creature, humpback whales have evolved to survive in the world’s oceans with a varied and nutritious diet.

What Do Baby Humpback Whales Eat?

Baby humpback whales rely on their mothers for nutrition for the first eight months to a year of their lives. They feed off the fat-rich milk produced by their mother’s mammary glands, which can reach up to 60% fat content. This type of milk helps baby humpbacks grow quickly and gain weight rapidly during their first year of life. A baby humpback whale can drink up to 150 gallons of milk daily.

What do humpback whales eat in spring?

Humpback whales feed for only four months every year. During spring, they feed on krill and small fish such as anchovies. They eat an enormous amount daily to store up enough blubber to last the cold winter season. During this period, they require extra energy for caring for offspring and lactation.

What do humpback whales eat in summer?

When summer arrives, humpback whales migrate to cooler waters and focus on feeding again. During the summer feeding months, humpback whales devote nearly all of their waking hours to foraging for food. They will continue to feed on krill and small fish such as anchovies, herring, and sardines, as well as squid and plankton.

What do humpback whales eat in winter?

In the winter, humpback whales slow down their feeding activity and focus on surviving in colder waters. They will also conserve energy by relying on their blubber stores to survive the winter.

How do humpback whales hunt?

What Do Humpback Whales Eat?

Humpback whales have a few different ways of hunting for food. The most common method is lunge feeding, in which they open their mouth wide and take in a large volume of water and prey at once. They also use bubble netting; this method is usually done with other humpbacks in a group and is an effective way for them to quickly find large amounts of food.

What is bubble netting?

Bubble netting is a group activity that often includes dozens of humpback whales collaborating to form an immense bubble ring.

One pod of whales will swim below an expansive school of fish to herd them into a tight circle. Next, the group starts producing bubbles to confine and reduce the fish’s perimeter, forcing them into a closed herd. Some whales may dive more deeply, pushing the fish into a bubble net to trap them.

After gathering the fish into a bunch, each whale can take turns swimming through their prey, filtering and consuming as many of them as possible.

For a baleen whale to filter feed, it advances towards a school of fish or krill with its mouth gaping wide open.

Where do humpback whales forage?

Humpback whales can be found in nearly every ocean and migrate to different areas throughout the year. During the spring and summer, they typically move to cooler waters where their food sources are abundant. This could mean traveling up to 10,000 miles (16,093 km) each year!

In the winter months, humpbacks will return to the warmer waters of tropical and subtropical regions, where they mate and give birth. During this migration, they usually feed in more shallow water, which allows them to consume a variety of small fish that are more easily accessible in these areas.


As you can see, humpback whales have an incredibly diverse dietary repertoire that gives them the ability to thrive in various environments. From krill to fish, they need a variety of sources of food to remain healthy and survive in the wild. What do humpback whales eat? The answer is quite complex and interesting!

We hope you have enjoyed learning about the fascinating dietary habits of humpback whales!

See our article Are whale sharks dangerous? to understand more about whale sharks.