Have you noticed that a humpback whale’s head is really bumpy?! The dark bumps you see are called tubercles, they are a large hair follicle that covers the humpback’s rostrum. Nerves are within the tubercle and a short hair can also protrude from it. Many researchers believe that humpbacks could be using the tubercles to sense vibrations in the water. Large schools of baitfish such as anchovies are a favorite food item for our humpbacks. These huge schools of fish create sound and vibration that our humpbacks could be sensing with their tubercles. Others believe the tubercles also help make humpback whales more agile. The tubercles create some lift and reduce drag while these massive animals swim through our oceans.
Naturalist Eric Austin Yee