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Humpback whales are well known for their long ?pectoral? fins, which can be up to 15 feet (4.6 m) in length. Their scientific name, Megaptera novaeangliae, means "big-winged New Englander" as the New England population was the one best known to Europeans. These fins, the longest of all whales, give them increased maneuverability and they are used to slow down or even go backwards. Hawaii.