Humpback Whale Gentle Giant of the Sea

breaching whale

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.

[whale close to boat] Many humpback whales arrive in Hervey Bay from late July and remain until November when they begin their return to the southern ocean. Whale watching in Hervey Bay has become an important attraction for tourists and naturalists. In recent years visitors to Hervey Bay, from mid-July to early November, have discovered the awe inspiring experience of watching the majestic humpback whale, and their encounters with the whales on the waters of Hervey Bay have been unforgettable. These majestic creatures have made Hervey Bay a regular stop on their annual migration to Antarctica after giving others and calves are now relaxed and at home with the whale watching boats which carefully approach their playground, and the guaranteed sightings are counted as "an experience of a lifetime". The humpbacks have made Hervey Bay their own, and as one of the most active and acrobatic of species they provide an awesome sight with their antics, including spectacular displays of breaching, tail flapping

[double breach]

About 6 operators offer whale watching tours, all vessels leaving from the Urangan Boat Harbour with the fleet offering

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Some vessels have sound systems to enable passengers to hear the whales sing, offer educational videos on the journey to the Hervey Bay Marine Park.

[touching a whale] All vessels have experienced crew who provide knowledgeable commentary which provides a greater interpretation of these gentle creatures.

As the years go by, the whales seem increasingly comfortable with the cruise vessels and often come so close you can almost reach out and touch them. Of course, tour operators adhere strictly to Environmental Protection Agency guidelines, designed in consultation with the Hervey Bay operators, to protect the whales and keep them coming back to Hervey Bay year after year. Other marine life which can be sighted during a day's whale watching include dolphins, turtles, and occasionally dugong.

Humpback Whale Facts

  • 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.

humpback whale - feeding

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