Humpback Whales up close

Humpback Whales [up Close] 24


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We live on a mountain with a distant view of the ocean; we can see the cargo ships and beautiful cruise ships go by, and apparently 16,000 humpback whales pass by twice every year too. Unfortunately, I can’t see them from my apartment. They come from the south up into the warm tropical waters to mate or to give birth, and then they turn around and go back with their precious offspring to the cool waters to feed on krill.

When my husband found some 50% off coupons for a whale watching cruise, we just had to go. We watched the weather reports for a week, then chose the afternoon cruise on the best day and booked it. As the week went by we kept checking the weather reports for our day. It went from mostly sunny to cloudy and 65% chance of rain with afternoon storms.

Humpback Whales up Close

Humpback Whale up close

We excitedly boarded the boat at 1 pm hoping that there would be whales to see, the weather was a little cloudy but was warm and pleasant.

Whale watching boat

The captain tells us to watch for water spurts or large splashes, and that he would refund our money if we did not see whales.

Humpback whale splash

A large splash indicating whales in the area

It was not long before some humpback whales were spotted. Boats need to keep 100 meters from the whales, but if the whales come to the boat that is no problem.

Humpback whales are the most acrobatic of the great whales and here they come toward our boat.  They are obviously curious and in a playful mood.

Humpback whale playing

Humpback whale rolling

Whale playing

Tail slapping

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the humpback whale actions is called ‘spy-hopping’ where the whale pops its head up out of the water to look around, this usually lasts about 30 seconds.

Spy-hopping

Spy-hopping near the front of the boat

They play around the boat and then start diving under the boat and surprising us by popping up near the boat railing.

 

Spy-hopping

Spy-hopping very close to the side of the boat

They are now so wonderfully close to us, these are majestic mammals.

Humpback whales have two blow holes, one connected to each of its huge lungs. They use these holes to put forth 4-meter sprays of water which is often the first indication that a whale is near.

Two blow holes of humpback whales

The two blow holes

Acrobatic humpback whales come toward our boat, obviously in a curious and playful mood. Click To Tweet

Humpback whales – amazing facts

– Size: 14 – 18 meters (46 – 59 ft)

– Weight: Whales weigh up to 50 tonnes (55 tons)  Calf (baby whale) is born weighing at least 1 ton.

– Gestation is 11 to 11 and 1/2 months.

– Baby humpback whales suckle 400-600 liters of milk a day. (1,268 US pints).

– Mating and calving takes place in the warm tropical waters of Northern Queensland Australia  then they  return south to Antarctica. This migration process is between June and November. Whales found in most oceans of the world all migrate for these same reasons, they may travel up to 10,000 kilometers.

– Whales only eat when they are in the cold waters where there is krill. During the migration period away from the krill they go up to six months without eating.

– Humpback whales do not have any teeth. “An average-sized humpback whale will eat 4,400-5,500 pounds (2000-2500 kg) of plankton, krill and small, schooling fish each day during the feeding season in cold waters (about 120 days). They eat twice a day.” (Source: Enchanted Learning).

– When they are on the move they cruise at about 8 kilometers per hour (5 mph).

– Humpback whales are also distinguished by their large pectoral fins, we see them in use when the whale is rolling in the water.

Large pectoral fins

Large pectoral fins

The black and white markings on the inside of the tail are different on every whale. They are used to identify individual whales much like our fingerprints identify us.

Black and white tail markings

Black and white tail markings

Tail markings of humpback whales

Close encounter showing the identifying markings

Humpback whales sing

“The male humpback whale is famous for its extraordinarily long and complex songs which travel very far throughout the oceans. These submarine songs, composed by several elements, can last for hours. They are specific to different populations and can be heard hundreds of kilometers away. Scientists think that the humpbacks do this to communicate with other whales and to potentially attract a mate.” (Source: Link and more information).

Marine biologist Philip Clapham describes the song as “probably the most complex in the animal kingdom.”

Most people who have an encounter with whales fall in love with how magnificent and intelligent they are, leaving us in awe of the creator.

Thankfully the weather held fine all afternoon, just after we arrived home there was a huge storm.

We didn’t see a full breach where the whole whale is high above the water, that sounds like a good excuse to go on another cruise.

I hope you have enjoyed these pictures and facts about humpback whales.

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