THE HUMPBACK WHALE – THE GENTLE GIANT OF THE OCEAN
Two large Humpback Whales playing alongside Crusader 1

There are thought to be roughly 40,000 humpback whales across the world. With half of these expected to glide through the Sunshine Coast’s waters this winter, here are some fun facts to school you up on these magnificent creatures!

CHARACTERISTICS

  • The female humpbacks are longer than the males. A female can measure up to 50 feet long, with their tale up to 18 feet wide!
  • The average weight of the humpback whale is 45 tonnes. That’s equivalent to over 20 cars, or 1000 children.
  • Humpback whales usually live to between 45- 50 years.
  • They have very sensitive skin that is easily sunburned.
  • They have no sense of smell or taste, but have incredible hearing ranging over many kilometres for communicating and finding food.
  • The whale’s tale is like human fingerprints – each has unique and different characteristics.
  • The males’ tales are usually covered in battle scars as a result of the fierce competition for available females. This is the easiest way to tell the difference between male and female! The easiest way to tell the difference between a male and a female!
  • The Humpback Whale has two blow holes – one for each lung. Each of its lungs is the size of a small car.
  • Baby humpback whales, known as calves, are fed over 400 litres of rich milk each day, which is the consistency of condensed cream.

 

BEHAVIOUR

  • Humpback whales’ have a huge appetite and can devour up to 1800kgs of krill per day!
  • During mating season, humpback whales will fast for months at a time, so they can focus on migration and mating.
  • Female humpbacks usually get pregnant in Queensland’s warm waters, and return the following year to give birth. Their calf will not survive if it is born into the freezing waters of the Antarctic.
  • Humpback whales are the most acrobatic of all the whales, and can often be seen playing in the water and putting on a show!
  • The tale is used as a form of non-verbal communication through a tail slap…which can be heard underwater several hundred metres away.
  • Each pod communicates through its own dialect, and sings its own whale song. These songs can be heard up to 32km away and can be up to 20 minutes long. The whales are known to repeat the same song over for hours.
  • Adult whales can hold their breath under water for over half an hour.

MIGRATION PATTERNS

  • Humpback Whales travel over 10,000kms on their yearly migration, the longest migration journey of any animal in history.
  • This migration is largely driven by their immense appetite and love of krill! These small prawn like creatures are abundant in the Antarctic waters.
  • They migrate north to Queensland’s subtropical waters to mate and give birth. Their new baby calves would not survive if born in the freezing Antarctic waters.

 

Nothing compares to the thrill of seeing these giant creatures up close in their natural habitat. Let Sunshine Coast Afloat take you on a whale watching experience of a lifetime!

 

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Jerry van Driel-Vis