What Do Humpback Whales Eat? A Brief Guide

Did you know that a humpback whale will swim an average of about 100 miles a day? This is more than almost any human athlete in the world can do.

Whether you are learning about humpback whales for the first time or you have tons of information, one question that you may have is what do humpback whales eat?

Keep reading to learn all about this great topic!


Krill, which looks like tiny shrimp, is something that humpback whales like to eat a lot. In some parts of the ocean, these tiny creatures live in huge groups and are an important food source for many marine animals, like humpback whales.

If you visit these krill-rich areas during their feeding season, you will likely see humpback whales hunting and eating these many crustaceans.

Small Fish

Small fish are an important part of a humpback whale’s diet, and they are a useful food source all over their range. These marine mammals have a wide range of tastes and are known to eat many different kinds of small fish, based on where they live and how many of those fish are around.

Herring, mackerel, capelin, and sand lance are some of the most popular small fish that humpback whales eat. Whales eat these fish because they often gather in big groups that give them a lot of food at once.


Even though humpback whales are large filter feeders, it is known that they eat plankton as well. When they eat, they mostly go for krill and small fish, but sometimes they take in big mouthfuls of water with plankton in it. As they pass the water through their baleen plates, the plankton gets caught and is eaten along with the water.

Other Prey

Humpback whales are opportunistic feeders, which means that they will eat other types of food if they get the chance.

People have seen humpback whales eat squid before. Squids are cephalopods that can move quickly. People have seen humpback whales use their quick movements to catch squid in their strong mouths.

There have been reports of these sightings in many places, such as the waters off the coast of Waikiki, where humpback whales sometimes come close to shore during their yearly migrations.

Besides krill, humpback whales may also eat amphipods and copepods, which are also small crustaceans. There are lots of these tiny creatures in many marine ecosystems, and whales can eat them when their favorite food isn’t around.

They have also occasionally been seen eating bigger fish and small sharks. It’s important to remember that this doesn’t happen very often and that these bigger animals are not a big part of their normal food.

Learn About What Do Humpback Whales Eat

Humpback whales are certainly remarkable creatures. Learning what do humpback whales eat makes you realize the enormous amount of food they consume.

Through actively foraging and gaining sustenance from a variety of different prey items, humpback whales continue to be an integral part of healthy marine ecosystems. To learn more about these remarkable creatures, consider taking an expedition to observe their habits and lives in the wild.

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