Get To Know About Humpback Whale And Its Migration!

Whales are one of the most beautiful creatures on the earth planet. They are a widely distributed and different group of completely aquatic placental marine mammals. They are creatures of the open ocean. The whales consist of 8 extant families including Balaenidae or right males, Balaenopteridae or the rorquals, Eschrichtiidae or the grey whales, Cetotheriidae or the pygmy right whales, Monodonitidae or belugas and narwhals, Kogiidae or the pygmy and the dwarf sperm whales, Physeteridae or the sperm whales, and Ziphiidae or the beaked whales.

Being an open ocean creature, a whale feeds, mates, gives birth, suckles, and raises the young at sea. Their adaptation to life undersea is extreme. This is why they are unable to live on the land. As there is a wide range of whales we can find in the sea, but in this post we are going to know about the Humpback Whale including interesting facts about them and the information related to their migration.

Humpback Whales

A Humpback Whale is a kind of whale, which belongs to the family of whales called as rorquals. Rorquals is a group, which includes the Blue Whale, Bryde’s Whale, Fin Whale, Minke Whale, Sei Whale, and much more. There are some common characteristics of these whales belonging to the same group of family. One characteristic is that they have dorsal fins on their back part, and another one is that they possess ventral pleats that ride for the tip of the lower jaw to the navel region.

They are featured by the control of the baleen plates and bristles rather than teeth to sieve the krill upon these whales feed. They are regular callers to the seaside waters off Southern Queensland. Throughout the winter season, they drift from Antarctic waters, cross through South Island New Zealand, to the hot waters of the tropics for the sake of calving, each and every year.

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Description of the Humpback Whale!

Even though, they possess the normal shape of the fish, but they are mammals. This whale is warm blooded, breathe air and tolerates live young and nurtures them with milk. The name of the Humpback Whale or Megaptera Novaeangliae is taken from the Greek word ‘Megas’, which means great and pteron, a wing. This is because this whale has huge wings like paddles. When it comes to the pectoral fins, they are up to five meters or 15 feet in length, which is 1/3 of the animal’s total length.

A Humpback Whale can weigh up to 36000 kg. It has an idiosyncratic body shape with a knobby head. The special feature about them is that they are known for breaching and many other unique surface behaviors that make it popular among the whale watchers. When it comes to the Humpback Whale males, they create a complex song that lasts for 10 to 20 minutes that they repeat for hours at once. Their purpose for singing the song is not clear, but the more chances, it is to be found that it may have a role in reproducing.

Where to be found?

Humpback Whales are originated in seas and oceans around the world. These creatures typically migrate up to 25k km every year. When it comes to the feeding, they do in the polar waters, and travel to subtropical or tropical waters to breed and then produce young when they fast and rely on their fat reserves. They eat small fish and krill, which makes most of their diet. Other diet foods of these whales are capelin, salmon, mackerel, herring, and a wide range of crustaceans. They follow a different stock of feeding methods that include the bubble net technique. As other whales were the target of the whaling industry, this whale was too. Once hunted to the edge of the extinction, their population fell down by an estimated 90% before the moratorium in the year of 1966. On the other hand, the stocks have incompletely recovered, but the predicament in the fishing gear, noise pollution, and collisions with ships carry on to put a great influence on the population of 80k.

Feeding techniques

As mentioned-above, the bubble netting is one of the most effective techniques to be used by the Humpbacks to hunt the food. A bubble net is a kind of a group effort or contribution that includes a number of humpback whales that circle a group of fish or other kind of prey to enclose them together while some whales blow bubbles under the fish so that they can compel the fish towards the surface. When the fish are out-of-the-way together, then these humpbacks will take turns swimming throughout the fish’s ball, eating their immobilized prey.

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An important thing about the Humpback Whale is that they are capable of consuming a huge amount of food in a single day. While on the other hand, they are also well-known to fast throughout the mating periods. They depend on the fat, they consume in the food or they have obtained during their feeding season.

What’s about the feeding season?

Now, coming to the point that is the feeding season for humpbacks. The feeding season for these whales occurs in the months of the warmer summer. They can be discovered hunting, searching, and feeding in and around the icy climates near both the Northern and Southern Polar Hemispheres. They use this precious time to make their blubber supply for their relocation trip towards their reproduction grounds later in the year.

Due to their baleen plates, they are restricted in the kinds of foods they can consume. This is why they have a tendency to stick with smaller prey that can be easily and quickly digestible in nature. Although, they are not capable of taking as many kinds of prey as other toothed whale species can take. A Humpback Whale is renowned to rely on different kinds of fish that gives them with more a different diet when we take the comparison of the diet of other members of the baleen whale group into account. It also tends that they may search for the food as the prey individually or they work together as a group to get their food. When they consider group hunting, these mammals can use a huge variety of dissimilar methods to get hands on their prey.

Know the mating season

When the freezing of the water takes place throughout the colder winter months and also their food supply starts to travel towards warmer waters, they also start migrating towards those coastal areas, where there will be warmer tropical climates. They start fasting during the winter and get energy from the stored fat in the body that take place during the summer months. When they reach their destination that is closer to the tropical regions of the world, this is the time they initiate mating, mingling, and reproducing.

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There is a strong competition among male humpbacks, which are said to be powerful throughout the mating season with males that charge one another. The male Humpback Whales show their youngness by performing a lot of acrobatic behaviors. Even, they also compete with other while singing the songs that would be a great experience to go through. When it comes to competitive and communication behaviors, they may involve lob tailing, spy hopping, fin slapping, breaching, charging, and tail slapping.

The reason why the male humpbacks sing is that they want to attract the female humpbacks towards them. When they sing the songs, they are believed to display their dominance behavior towards other male humpbacks. People can hear the whale songs during the mating time period from miles away. A male Humpback Whale can carry on singing for over 24 hours and the songs last for 10 to 20 minutes individually.

Afterwards, when they are done with the mating and giving birth to the young ones, they initiate their long trip back towards their breast-feeding grounds to gather the food and get ready for the next mating season.

The incredible Humpback Whale migration

These humpback whales follow a perfect migration time every year. They are found in Icelandic waters. When the early spring arrives, they go through a long trip of about 7000 km or 4600 miles starting from the Gulf of Mexico to Iceland, this generally takes place in the March month. The Humpback Whales swim for at least one month before their arrival at the Southern Coastal waters of the Iceland. It has been seen that these whales do not tend to travel alone. The female humpbacks go with their calves to their destination that is the rich feeding grounds.

Hurdles to face

The journey of the Humpback Whales seems to be easier, but in the actual, it is not like that. The trip is not only long, even it is death-defying. While crossing the path, they have to face a number of hurdles. In spite of their huge size, they are under threat from the greatest predators of the world, which are the killer whales.  These killer whales are named as orcas, which wait in oceans all over the world and look for the options to feed themselves.

In any case, if any of the killer whales are able to find thee Humpback Whales, especially the females and the young ones, they will make efforts to isolate the baby from its mother. This condition will eventually become serious and dangerous. If the killer whales get success in taking the calf away from the mother, usually they work together to do this job, they will afterwards attempt to make the calf die by biting them and extracting the pectoral fins of the Humpback Whale’s calf until the calf gets tired. Chasing the calf by the killer whales can last for many hours. Lastly, the orcas will take-off from the water onto the back of the calf that covers the blowhole of the whale. It makes the calves feel suffocated. This is not the only trouble, the Humpback Whales experience during their travel.

Finally, they arrive their destination, Icelandic waters, by the month of the April. At that time, they are completely hungry and become thin as they are living without the food for months in the tropical waters. During the mating season, they concentrate on breeding and barest-feeding their newly born calves in the comparatively safe seawaters of the Gulf of Mexico. The main reason why they experience this incredible trip to the Iceland is the abundance of food the Iceland waters have.

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Those whales, which are originated in the Atlantic ocean that have white flippers. They are easily acknowledged by seeing the patterns on their freaks that are unique. These freaks have a great resemblance to our fingerprints. When these whales are in the North Atlantic, the whales will disappear during the Icelandic waters. Several whales break the barks of the Reykjavik Area, while others like to visit the South, and some other swim up north to Eyjafjörður, in which these whales share the rich feeding grounds along with the blue whales.

For the upcoming nine months, the humpback whakles depend on cod, krill, sardines, and other instructing fish in the cold Iceland waters. They stay in the Eyjafjörður because the waters around this are so much fertile that several whales will be able to reside in this region the whole year. This time, a number of boats in Akureyri can be sailed out to observe these feeding mammals in less than just 30 minutes. If you want to experience the humpback whale watching, then you must prepare for a dive, jump, and fly their fins that are surrounded by the subarctic Icelandic nature. It will give you the experience that will keep with you for your entire lifetime.

By the end of the October month and the early November, it is to be noticed that most of the humpback whales are well nourished and ready for their seasonal relocation back to the region, where they have resided before that is the Gulf of Mexico. Their yearly migration is considered as the longer recorded journey as compared to other mammals all over the world.

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