Tofino Wildlife Vol. 4, The Humpback

Over the coming weeks West Coast Aquatic Safaris will present a compilation of information on the wildlife of the Pacific Rim as well as some of the flora and fauna. Today we will begin a look at the Humpback Whale

Like our friendly Gray Whale, Humpbacks also makes quite the journey in the south for the winter season. The Humpback whale travels 8000km during there migration to sunny Hawaii or Mexico for a nice tropical winter vacation. There are over 80 000 of these amazing creatures worldwide, found from polar to tropic waters. Humpbacks grow to be an average of 45ft in length, weighing a whopping 30 tons, females also tend to be larger then males. The Humpback received it’s name from the motion they make when arching there back in preparation to dive. They have 12-36 pleats on the throat and there flippers have unique markings that can help ID each individual whale.

Male Humpbacks are very dominant, and tend to be very aggressive during breeding season. Humpbacks are also known for their impressive songs. They can sing from a few minutes lasting as long as half an hour! A performance  can last for several days only stopping for short breaks in between. Only male Humpbacks sing, performing mainly in the breeding season. Humpbacks commonly travel in small groups of up to 3 individuals, but have seen spotted in groups up to 15!

Humpback whales have a diverse repertoire of feeding methods, including the bubble net feeding technique. Each whale has its own role in the process: one blows bubbles around the fish school to keep them from escaping, others scare or confuse the fish and help bring them to the surface, and others herd the fish together and upwards. Once the fish are at the surface, all the whales lunge upwards with their huge mouths wide open and try to gulp as many fish as they can.

Humpback breeding takes place in warm waters. Gestation period is 11.5 months, calves nurse for about a year.

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