Ready to learn some awesome facts about the Humpback Whales that visit Hervey Bay? Check out the blog post below!
About the humpback whale fins
While the Humpback whale may not be the largest species of whale it is easily recognised because of it’s very long pectoral fins. It’s Scientific name is Megaptera Novaeangliae; from ‘megas’ greek for great and ‘pteron’ greek for wing. These fins or flippers help to regulate the whales’ body temperature and when you are migrating from subantarctic to temperate and tropical waters this comes in very handy. The humpback whales fins are also helpful in identifying individual whales as each whale has a different pattern of spots and markings on the underside of the fins and on the tail fluke. The obvious back dorsal hump is another distinguishing feature which gives it the common name.
About the humpback whale size
Adult humpback males are up to 15m and females are slightly larger at up to 16m. Their body mass is on average 25 -30 metric tons but large individuals can be 40 metric tons. A newborn calf measure about the length of a mothers head, 4-6 metres and weighs about 1.5 ton. This weight increases rapidly while the mother is feeding the calf in the warm waters. The milk is rich in fat at 45 to 50% and calves can drink more than 200-300 litres a day.
About the humpback whale reproduction
Reproduction takes 11 months and is the reason for the 5000k epic migration. Humpback whale calves must be born in warm water to survive and grow for the return to polar waters. Courtship also takes place during the migration and it is the reason for many of the spectacular acrobatic behaviours Humpbacks are well-known for: Tail slapping, pectoral fin slapping, breaching, lob-tailing and peduncle throws. Groups of males often interact forcefully charging and parrying in chase pods to win the right to mate with a female.
Where you can find humpback whales
While humpback whales are found in most oceans and seas around the world it is the east coast Humpback population that migrate in Queensland waters and a proportion of these enter Hervey Bay during their southern migration back toward Antarctic waters. This is why our whale watch season starts later than other eastern whale watch sites where the whales are on a mission to go north to the Great Barrier Reef and beyond to mate and calve. Hervey Bay is considered unique in that it is a safe nurturing area for mothers and calves and they tend to rest and play in the shelter afforded between Fraser Island and the mainland. It is estimated that between 4 to 5000 come into the bay for three days minimum and can stay for 3 weeks. Many individual whales are recognised and welcomed by whale watch boats every year and formal identification by The Oceania Project has been undertaken for many years during whale season.
Check out the awesome infographic below from Tourism Queensland for more fun facts!
Some pretty impressive facts right there! Do you have any more fun facts to share? Pop them in the comments below!