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George and Grace in aquarium

George and Gracie, a male and female humpback whale

The humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) was a sentient aquatic cetaceous mammal species indigenous to Earth. Adults usually ranged between forty-five to fifty feet in length, and weighed about forty tons. This species was well known for its complex song, which was proven in 2286 to be a full-fledged language. This species became extinct during the 21st century due to overhunting.

In 2286, Admiral James T. Kirk traveled back in time to San Francisco in 1986 and retrieved two humpback whales to answer an alien probe that threatened Earth. Kirk and his crew's mission was a success and the two whales were released into 23rd century San Francisco bay, possibly repopulating the species on Earth. The whales were a mated pair, with a calf on the way.

Information on, a model of, and a global map showing the range of this species was included in a display of other baleen whales that was seen in the Cetacean Institute in 1986. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)

The two whales seen in Star Trek IV were mechanically created by Industrial Light & Magic under project supervisor Walt Conti with help of advisor and marine mammal expert Pieter Folkens. Several scenes, such as the last scene in which the two whales responded to the alien probe and swam out to sea, were footage from a whale documentary.

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