The Annual Humpback Whale Migration: What you Need to Know
Of the many whale species, perhaps it is the Humpback Whale that has enjoyed an amazing comeback from being almost hunted to extinction and this species now numbers tens of thousands. The ‘save the whale’ movement that began in the 1970s was the impetus for worldwide action to ban whaling and coupled with moving shipping lanes, all whale species are now recovering in numbers.
The Humpback Whale Annual Migration
If you happen to live in NSW, you are perfectly placed to witness thousands of Humpback and Southern Right Whales as they head north to the warm tropical waters near the Great Barrier Reef. The migration commences in May and lasts through to July and whale watching in Eden really gets busy at this time, with family-owned and managed whale watching boats that take you to the action
Breeding in Tropical Waters
The Humpbacks know where the best locations are for rearing their young and after spending 6-8 weeks in the warm tropical region of the Great Barrier Reef, the mothers and their calves head back south along the coast.
The Return Trip
When the mothers think their young are ready, they head back to their feeding grounds in Antarctica and this is said to be the best time to watch whales, during the months of August and September. The mothers swim close to the shoreline, preferring the calmer, shallow waters for their calves, which are experiencing life for the first time and are very playful. If you can make it at this time, you are assured of encounters with these majestic creatures and the tour operator actually gives you a guarantee of another free trip in the event no whales are sighted.
Humpback Whale Surface Behaviours
The Humpback, like most species, is very active on the surface and they exhibit the following:
- Spy Hop – The whale sits vertically in the water and looks around before sinking back down.
- Tail Slap – Just prior to diving, the whales often slap their fluke (tail) down hard on the water surface, which is thought to remove parasites.
- Blow – The boat skipper looks out for the blow, when the whale comes to the surface and exhales through a hole in the top of the head. This shoots a spray of white water into the air and the crew use this to sight pods of whales as they make their way along the coastline.
If you would like to experience a close-up encounter with whales, book a spot on one of the whale watching boats that depart from Eden and be ready for the experience of a lifetime.
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