Cornish Biodiversity Network  -  Supporting Wildlife Recording

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Cornish Red Data (2009)

The descriptive text, below the map, is from the Cornish Red Data Book (2009). The map on this web page depicts the organisms distribution and shows the records made pre-2000 and those made since.

Megaptera novaeangliae - Humpback Whale

Range & Status

Humpback Whales are present in all oceans. They embark on long migrations between high-latitude summer feeding grounds and tropical breeding grounds. Commercial whaling seriously depleted all populations; however, many stocks have shown a remarkable recovery. The largest numbers of animals were taken in the north Atlantic during the 19th century, but 35 were taken between 1908 and 1927 from UK whaling stations. The available population estimates total more than 60,000 animals. (Reilly et al. , 2008d). The few but regular sightings in recent years combined with data from bottom-mounted hydrophone arrays could be indicative of a return of the humpback whale to UK waters. (UK Biodiversity Group, 1999).


Taken in British waters during commercial operations in the past, but probably never any strandings on the British coast and certainly none recorded since 1913.


1995 (2), 1996 (3), 1997 (1), 1998 (4), 1999 (2).


Listed as Least Concern. (Reilly et al ., 2008d. Megaptera novaeangliae . In: IUCN 2008. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. . Downloaded on 18 March 2009.) A UK Biodiversity Group Plan species.


I.J. Bennallick, S. Board, C.N. French, P.A. Gainey, C. Neil, R. Parslow, A. Spalding and P.E. Tompsett. eds. 2009. Red Data Book for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. 2nd Edition.Croceago Press.

The Cornish Red Data Book Project was led by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Federation for Biological Recorders (CISFBR). The full text and species accounts (minus the maps) are available on the CISFBR website.