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The patterns of association of juvenile male and female humpback whales, Megaptera novaeangliae, in the southern Gulf of Maine were studied for evidence of maturational changes. Both males and females became less solitary with age. In males, time spent alone changed from a mean of 55.8% of observations at age one to 26.8% at age six. Females were alone in a mean of 49.9% of observations at age one, but in only 20.5% by age six. However, females that produced calves at five, six or seven were associated with no whales but the calf in 73.8% of observations. Males exhibited a clear age-related trend of increasing associations with adults, notably with adult females which constituted approximately 80% of the associates of males aged six years or more. Females showed a similar trend of increasing associations with adults of both sexes. Tests of association data for whales of known age with similar data for adults of the same sex showed that the association patterns of young males and females became statistically indistinguishable from those of adults by the ages of five and four, respectively. The data suggest that the observed changes in social behaviour are closely linked to the attainment of sexual maturity and preparation for adult roles. The different patterns of males and females after maturity may reflect differing reproductive and life-history strategies.