Home Marine BiologyFish Where to Meet, Swim, Snorkle, and Observe Humpback Whales?

Where to Meet, Swim, Snorkle, and Observe Humpback Whales?

by Tijana

We find the humpback whale in almost every sea on ​​the globe! You can dive with this magnificent animal in many diving spots.

Humpback Whales

Where you will find humpback whales?

In the southern hemisphere, the humpback whale reaches Antarctic waters from November to June and is present in warm waters from June to November.

 In the northern hemisphere, the humpback whale frequents the icy waters of Alaska and the Arctic from June to November, then descends into warm waters from November to June. Completely harmless to humans, the observation and encounter with this giant of the seas will remain in your memory forever!

Main characteristics 

The humpback whale belongs to the masticate family, characterized by baleen, unlike odontocetes, which are toothed cetaceans. The baleen is lines of rods covered with hair in the jaw of whales. They are used for filtering the water and thus keep only the food. Some species have up to 400 baleens on each side of the mouth.

Its throat has folds that swell, increasing the capacity of her mouth. The adult can reach 17m in length and weigh up to 25 tons, the female is sometimes larger than the male. Their body is rather massive. Its back is gray-black, and its belly is mostly white.

 It has 2 large white and black pectoral fins (each individual has its design on the pectoral fins). It has multiple tubercles on the rostrum. The head is quite short and flattened. Humpback whales have a slight bump on its back with a small fin. This bump and round back are the origins of its name.

 The humpback whale surfaces to expel a blast that can reach 3m in height. They estimate its longevity at 40 years.

 They drift, undulating its body (about 8 km/h).

It feeds on krill, sand lance, herring, capelin, mackerel, or sardines in cold water, then moves to warmer water to mate and give birth.

 Its fishing technique is very original. As a group, it surrounds a school of fish, then creates a net of bubbles to trap its prey. It can also strike the surface of the water with its caudal fin. Some dolphins can also benefit from this miraculous fishing. The humpback whale lives alone; it can sometimes join a group for a few hours, then it continues its way.

The humpback whale reaches sexual maturity around the age of 4. The songs and the courtship displays are spectacular. It is a real ballet. To seduce the beautiful, the fights between males are sometimes intense. The dancing and singing intensify as the males arrive or leave. Jumps can reach 5m high, it can also stand on aside and hit the water with its fins, or even hit the surface with its tail. Only males sing during courtship display.

These chants and growls are probably also communication. Mating takes place in warm waters, gestation lasts eleven months, and the whale returns to give birth in warm and protected lagoons. The whale only gives birth to one calf every 2 years. At birth, the calf already weighs more than a ton for 4m long, it will be autonomous at 4 years. The mother will breastfeed him for 5 months and protect him from the killer whales, which attack the mothers and kill the young.

The humpback whale is a talker

Its vocalizations are very studied by scientists: songs, whistles, grunts are very varied. They may differ depending on the group, which suggests that there is a real dialect between the groups. These sounds also serve as sonars that can be altered by the sounds of ships. In 1996, an American biologist described whale song as “the most complex in the animal kingdom”. The song of the sexual display differs from that of the peach.

Its 2 chief enemies are men and orca

Fighting with killer whales can be tough, and they often kill calves. But we are its chief danger. The population has been decimated by several million in 100 years of fishing! The mission of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) is to manage hunting (opening and closing dates) and to define sanctuaries and areas of refuge. This convention has been ratified in 1946 by 45 countries.

It is difficult to estimate the remaining number (we estimate it at around 35,000), but a few countries continue to practice fierce hunting (sometimes by “tradition”, unaware of the interest to protect these endangered species).

 Economic interest is important. The size of the mammal provides an enormous amount of food, oil (for heating), we use leather for belts and shoes, intestines for ropes, and fat for  pharmaceutical and cosmetic products. In the past, baleen was used for corsets, bras, or even umbrellas (hence the word whale!).

In 1979, at the request of Seychelles, the southwestern area of ​​the Indian Ocean became an International Whale Sanctuary, banning all commercial hunting. This Sanctuary welcomes whales from June to October, the warm waters being suitable for resting mothers and calves.

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