The prime characteristic of the humpback whale is the conspicuous length of the pectoral fins. Important distinguishing features are its habit of raising a large part of its body out of the water, thereby displaying its long pectoral fin and the way in which it raises its tail vertically before immersing showing off the black and white coloring of that organ.
Unlike most baleen whales, humpbacks often trap their prey by lunging upward from below. To concentrate shoals of fish or krill, they often spiral around them while exhaling air. This "bubble-netting" can be carried out by several individuals working as a team. They often feed near coasts. Their diet is very varied and includes a variety of shoal fish (anchovies, sardines, herrings, cod, and several salmons) and planktonic crustaceans.
The humpback's skin plays host to a large number of parasites, including balanid crustaceans. On the front of the head and on the pectoral fins it also has prominent lumpy excrescences.
The humpback whales can be found in almost all the seas of the world, with populations at both poles. They all, in fact, follow the same pattern of seasonal migration: the cold season is spent in tropical waters, where both mating and birth takes place; during the hot season the humpbacks move to the cold waters of the polar regions. Although protected, the humpback population is decreasing.