Humpbacks are one of the best studied large whales and their habits of displaying a wide range of different acrobatic behaviors make them a favorite among whale watchers. Humpbacks have also become widely known because of their complex songs, consisting of a series of repeating patterns, which are used as part of the males breeding display in the competition for access to females.
While humpbacks generally occur mainly in smaller groups or as single individuals, they may gather in large numbers at their feeding- and breeding-grounds. The only known long-term bond between humpbacks is that of mothers and calves, where the calf generally stay together with its mother for about one year. The calves are born in warm, comparatively shallow, waters in the tropics and then follow their mothers on the migration to the northern feeding grounds. Calves typically become independent in route or while on the feeding grounds but may accompany their mothers back to the breeding grounds.
Compared to other baleen whales, humpbacks show a lot of themselves above the surface and a number of different behaviors may be observed in the encounter with the whales. Some of the most commonly observed behaviors are listed below.