Humpback Whales belong to the group of whales known as rorquals, a group that includes the Blue Whale, Fin Whale, Bryde's Whale, Sei Whale, and Minke Whale. Rorquals have two characteristics in common: dorsal fins on their backs, and ventral pleats running for the tip of the lower jaw to the navel area. They are characterized by the possession of baleen plates for sieving the krill upon which they feed. Humpback Whales are regular visitors to the coastal waters off southern Queensland. Each year, during winter, humpback whales migrate from Antarctic waters, pass through South Island New Zealand , to the warm waters of the tropics for calving.
Global numbers are still recovering after humpbacks were widely hunted and slaughtered by commercial whalers for much of the 20th Century. Australia abandoned commercial hunting in the late 1970s, and since then has become a vociferous critic of Japan’s still-operating scientific whaling program. “One of the main arguments against commercial whaling is that the whale watching is a far more sustainable and far more profitable business,”
Humpback Whale Facts
Type: Mammal Diet: Omnivore Size: 48 to 62.5 ft (14.6 to 19 m) Weight: 40 tons (36 metric tons) Group name: Pod Protection status: Endangered
* The humpback whale takes its name from the habit of breaking the water surface with a large area of its back when diving. * Approximately 3,000 Humpback whales will migrate this season between Antarctica and the Great Barrier Reef * Humpbacks are still the third most endangered species of all the big whales, but now their numbers are increasing 13% each year. * They are the fifth largest animal on this planet, growing up to 15 metres in length with a weight of up to 45,000kg (99,000lbs) - equivalent to 11 elephants or 600 persons each! * Humpbacks are the most acrobatic of all of the great whales * The species displays a wide variety of leaping, rolling and breaching movements which provide fascinating viewing for whale watchers. * The humpback whale is also well known for its complex underwater vocalisations or whale songs particularly during breeding. * Adult whales have been seen to breach 20 - 30 times within 5 minutes, displaying awesome grace and power.