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George and Gracie, a male and female humpback whale

A humpback whale

The humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) was a sentient aquatic cetaceous mammal species indigenous to Earth.

Evolutionary history

The humpback whales evolved approximately ten million years before modern humans. 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.

At some point in the past, humpback whales were contacted by an advanced alien race. The race maintained some level of contact until the 21st century when the humpbacks became extinct. Some time after that point, an alien probe was sent to Earth to determine why contact had been lost with the humpback whale. The probe arrived in 2286 and, finding no sign of the humpbacks, began to ionize Earth's oceans. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)


In 2286, Admiral James T. Kirk traveled back in time to San Francisco in 1986 and retrieved two humpback whales to answer the alien probe which now 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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