Between May and November the Queensland coast line comes alive with the majestic giants from the Antarctic waters. Humpback Whales annually migrate to the calving grounds of the tropical pacific. Typically the migration is lead by groups of young males while the pregnant cows and cow-calf pairs bring up the rear with the bulk of the middle formed by adult breeding whales.* Travelling 5000 km on average makes this migratory route one of the longest journeys for any mammal on the planet.
While these animals have become an iconic part of the Queensland’s winter and spring scene they were once over-exploited to the brink of extinction by large-scale commercial whaling practices dotted along the coastline with approximately 8300 humpback whales killed of the east coast between 1949 and 1962 reducing the population to a mere 3.5-5%.
Thank-fully, whaling was banned in the late 70’s and Humpback Whale numbers have increased by 10-11% each year and we now enjoy seeing whales daily around the Whitsunday Islands during their migration. Our guests and crew love whales so much that we’ve put together some fast facts about these gentle giants:
Humpback Whale Fast Facts!
- Adult males are called bulls, adult females are cows and baby whales are calves.
- The pectoral fins are the side fins of the whale and the tale is called a fluke.
- Adult humpback whales are between 12-16m long and weigh between 30 and 50 tonnes.
- The gestation period of humpback whales is 11 months and at birth the calves are 4-5m in length and weigh 2 tonnes
- Each whale is easily identified by their unique markings on the tail fluke. No two flukes are the same and National Parks use fluke sightings to track whale populations.
- Humpback Whales are baleen feeders and eat up to 1.5tonnes of krill and small fish a day
- You can hear these beautiful creatures sing underwater! Varying from high pitched squeals and long rumbling gurgles and grunts only the males sing.
- Mothers and Calves are very affectionate. You can often spot them laying on each other at the surface of the water while they have a rest. They also play together breaching out of the water, slapping their flukes and fins and roling around.
Follow us on Facebook to check out some of the awesome footage the Tallship Adventure crew have captured on board Derwent Hunter and Alexander Stewart! Book between July and October for the best chance to spot Humpback Whales in the Whitsundays!
If you’re looking for a whale souvenir from your holiday make sure you check out our local gallery www.aboveandbelowphotography.com.au