The humpback whale is a mammal and a species of baleen whale. Baleen are plates that instead of teeth can be used to filter the whales prey from the sea water.
Humpback whales are not dangerous to humans, in fact, they eat tiny plankton and krill. Due to the whales’ enormous size they will need to consume up to 5500 pounds (2500kg) per day.
While humpback whales were targeted by commercial whale hunters for their meat during the 19th and 20thcenturies, the population of humpback whales has rebounded in great fashion. They are now a species of ‘Least Concern’. The whale can be seen in all the worlds major oceans, from the poles to the tropics however, the battle is not over.
In the wild a humpback whale can live to 50 years old, and reach a length of 16 metres (52 feet) in length. In fact, the female, otherwise known as the cow, is often larger than the male, bull. The maximum weight can reach up to 66,000 pounds.
The humpback whale has two blowholes, one for each of it’s lungs. Therefore, when you see a humpback breath while it is on the surface you can observe two long plumes of water. Whale watchers often see the blow of the whale before seeing the body.
The humpback whale is often the most popular whale of whale watchers due to the fact that the species is so playful. This species often jump clean out of the water, otherwise known as breaching. They also slap their fins and flukes and lift their head out of the water, this is called spy-hopping.
Humpbacks can travel alone or in a group called a pod. Most groups are made up of two or three whales. However, in a puzzling discovery, scientists have found humpbacks in super-pods in recent times, sometimes with numbers that reach into the hundreds.
Young males often form into a group when they are in search of a female to mate with, this is called the ‘Heat Run’. A female humpback has a baby every two to three years. She carries her calf for a gestation period of about 12 months, 3 months longer than humans. The calf is born live, like most mammals. The newborns are between 4 metres (10 and 15 feet) long and weigh up to a ton (907 kg).
Humpback whales are the oceans great travellers. They can migrate around 3,000 miles (5,000 km) between their breeding and feeding grounds on a regular basis. The longest ever recorded migration was 11,706 miles (18,840 km), a trip that went from American Samoa to the Antarctic Peninsula.
Humans can swim with humpback whales in certain parts of the world. Due to the fact that humpback whales are known as calm and intelligent creatures, they can interact in a peaceful manner. In Tonga and Norway, mothers have been known to approach swimmers, and leave their calf’s while they dive.
The humpback song is one of natures great mysteries and in turn one of the most mesmeric sounds. The song varies in pitch and volume and has been heard 20 miles away.
Since you are now up to speed with your whale facts, how about joining us on an incredible Gold Coast Whale Watching Tour on our adventure boat Blue Manta?