Whales

WHALE FACTS

  • Adults range from 12-16 m (39-52 ft)
  • They migrate up to 25,000 km (16,000 mi) each year
  • Only male whales sing
  • All male humpback whales in the same region sing the same song
  • When fully grown, male humpback whales are smaller (13 - 14 metres / 43 - 46 feet) than females (14 - 16 metres / 49 - 52 feet)
  • The markings on the tail of each humpback whale is unique, like a human fingerprint
  • When feeding, humpback whales hunt using a technique known as bubble net fishing. A group of whales swim around in a circle and blow bubbles around their prey in order to herd the fish into a tight ball
  • They eat up to 1.5 tonnes a day
  • Humpback whales can travel up to 8km/h (5mph), however on average only travel 1.6km/h (1mph)


 

HUMPBACK WHALES

The humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) is a species of baleen whale. One of the larger rorqual species, adults range in length from 12–16 m (39–52 ft) and weigh around 25–30 metric tons (28–33 short tons). The humpback has a distinctive body shape, with long pectoral fins and a knobbly head. It is known for breaching and other distinctive surface behaviors, making it popular with whale watchers. Males produce a complex song lasting 10 to 20 minutes, which they repeat for hours at a time. Its purpose is not clear, though it may have a role in mating.

Found in oceans and seas around the world, humpback whales typically migrate up to 25,000 km (16,000 mi) each year. They feed in polar waters, and migrate to tropical or subtropical waters to breed and give birth, fasting and living off their fat reserves. Their diet consists mostly of krill and small fish. Humpbacks have a diverse repertoire of feeding methods, including the bubble net technique.

Like other large whales, the humpback was a target for the whaling industry. Once hunted to the brink of extinction, its population fell by an estimated 90% before a 1966 moratorium. While stocks have partially recovered to some 80,000 animals worldwide, entanglement in fishing gear, collisions with ships and noise pollution continue to affect the species.

 

Every year, as the cooler winter months come to the South Pacific. The waters of the island nation of Tonga play host to hundreds of some of the largest creatures on the planet – Megaptera novaeangliae, the humpback whale.

 

The whales start to arrive in Tonga in June after a journey of over 6,000 kms. From the waters of the Southern Ocean, up past the east coast of New Zealand. And along the sub-sea volcanic arch that forms the bedrock for the 170 plus islands of the Tongan archipelago.

 

The annual migration of humpback whales from their summer feeding grounds in the Antarctic. To their winter breeding grounds in Tonga is one of the largest and longest animal movements in the world.