There was a time when the population of humpback whales was estimated to be less than 1000 whales off the east coast of Sydney in the early 1970’s. As of now, their southern hemisphere population that migrates past Sydney harbour is approximately 35,000. Humpback whales are included in the list of endangered species.
The thing humpback whales are famous for is their migration journey. These whales travel more than 10,000 kilometres every year in order to migrate from their feeding grounds that are located in the cold waters of Antarctic to their breeding grounds that are located in warm seas.
Whale watching is a shared passion of thousands of tourists. And the best season to see whales in the wild is during their migration season. This article is about how whales behave in the wild and what behaviours are expected of them when you go whale watching.
1- The Blow
When a humpback whales dive, air is compressed in its lungs. When it reaches the surface, it exhales air through its blowhole. The air expands when it is exhaled, causing a drop in the temperature and turning the air into water vapour. This is one of the most common behaviours you’ll get to see when you go whale watching. The blow can go up to 6 metres high in the air, and you can hear it up to 250 metres away. Adult humpback whales come to the surface to take a breath anywhere from three to fifteen minutes, whereas calves need to breathe after every three to five minutes.
2- Head Rise
When a humpback whale rises very slowly and vertically from the sea surface, it is known as head rise. People say this behaviour allows humpback whales to get a view of what’s happening above the surface. They poke their head out of the water while keeping their body stationary and flippers outstretched in the sea. This particular behaviour of humpback whales is also known as a spy hop as well.
3- Tail Slap
Humpback whales raise their flukes out of the water and slap it really hard on the surface. When the whale flukes hit the water surface, the sound can be heard from miles away. Humpback whales are actually quite famous for slapping their flukes over and over. Some say they do that to warn other whales in the vicinity.
4- The Breach
The breach is definitely everybody’s favourite. People love to see a humpback whale put on a show for them by doing this powerful and acrobatic display. Humpback whales use their tails to propel their body into the air and then crash themselves onto the surface of the water with a loud sound and a huge splash. To see a 40-tonne whale leap out of the water is simply unforgettable.
Whale watching is one of the favourite activities of millions of tourists and locals in Sydney, Australia. Make sure you capture a sight or two of these magnificent creatures during their migration season.