Humpback whales are one of the most prominent and easily recognizable creatures on the planet - they can reach a size of a school bus! Sometimes, it doubles or triples in size! They have become a fascinating attraction for travelers and divers alike for their ability to breach the water, graceful swimming, and their ability to send melodic chimes to their kind.
Interestingly, despite their enormous size, they aren't predatory fishes and don't pose any threats to humans. In fact, krill, one of the smallest organisms in the ocean, is their main diet. So imagine how many tons of krill they need to eat to make up for their sheer size. In addition, they belong to the infraorder Cetacea, which means they can give live birth to offspring like most of their relatives of dolphins and porpoises.
There is still a lot we don't know about these creatures, and if you are one of the people who are interested in them, here are some amazing facts about humpback whales that should leave you fascinated and informed!
4 Humpback Whale Facts
Although there are a lot of fascinating facts about these majestic creatures, we've narrowed them down to a handful so readers won't get easily overwhelmed. So, without further ado, here are some fantastic facts about humpback whales!
1. As Big As They Can Be!
Humpback whales are considered one of the enormous creatures on the planet; despite their sheer size, they only come in second next to blue whales. Still, they can grow massive when they reach maturity! So how big can they be? Humpback whales can get up to 15 to 21 meters when they reach adulthood and weigh 40 tons! One of their distinctive features is their flippers, which are long and ungainly-looking!
Although these flippers are relatively longer than most species of baleen whales, scientists have studied that despite the size of their flippers, it is hydrodynamic and is well-suited for the whales' maneuverability.
2. They Are Amazing Singers!
Did you know that male humpback whales are extremely good singers? They sing melodic songs to court female humpback whales when mating season arrives. Both sexes can send their female counterparts haunting, melodic, and sometimes evocative calls. Males are known to send long, complex songs, whereas females send shorter ones, and it is believed that these songs are relayed to attract females during mating season.
Some researchers also believe that these signals signify competition for male humpback whales with other males. However, some would also think that it is used for echolocation, the exact mechanism used by their cousins for hunting food, alerting other whales when there's a predator, and navigation underwater.
To communicate with their fellow species, humpback whales also use different gestures, such as snorts, groans, and growls. In some instances, it is also witnessed that young calves are also sending 'whisper' or low melodic tones to their mothers - which is thought to be a signal to help them avoid giant humpbacks and predators underwater.
3. Gentle Than You Would Expect!
As we've mentioned, despite their vast size, they aren't predator fishes like their orca cousins; they are harmless and wouldn't mind having you beside them whenever they swim in the open water. They are non-aggressive animals, which means they don't pose any threats, and the chances of being attacked by a humpback whale are to a bare minimum. However, they are curious creatures and would often and sometimes approach small boats for inspection.
On the other hand, they are known for their breaching capabilities that they can injure unwary individuals swimming nearby. For example, there was an instance wherein a humpback whale killed a Canadian woman when a humpback whale breached the water and landed on the snorkeling tour boat the woman was in. Still, this is an infrequent occurrence as most humpback whales are aware of their surroundings and would often stay away from contact with people and fishing vessels.
4. Promiscuous Ones!
Male and female humpbacks aren't monogamous and don't have an intimate bond with each other. It is also thought that after mating season is over, they often leave each other and would go on with their own lives. The courtship stages usually start during the winter months; their complex rituals will soon undergo when they congregate in sub-tropical and tropical regions of the planet that would often require them to travel thousands of miles to find a mate.
Once these males have arrived in warmer and tropical water regions of the world, they are more highly sociable, mating starts, and reproducing offspring follows. During the mating season, competition is very stiff, and males are often seen charging with each other. They would often showcase their youthfulness by breaching into the water, tail slapping, and even tailing their female counterparts to exhaustion. These are necessary steps for males to help them be chosen by the female humpback and be given the right to mate.
There's another critical aspect to getting chosen by a female humpback; as we've mentioned, singing can also help attract females; it is also behavior to show their dominance. Scientists also think that these songs play a pivotal role in stimulating the oestrus in females. Still, these aggressive showings by males, it is a rarity that each of them will cause harm to one another and poses no serious physical injury and is only for show.
Humpback whales, despite their size, aren't exempt from the atrocities of life almost all marine life are facing. Humankind is still their most significant threat to their survival, and if people are still doing these things that help decline their population, it won't take long for these massive creatures to go extinct in just a matter of years.
With concerted efforts to various communities and organizations, let's take our words into action and help these creatures and all marine life to have a better future ahead of them as they are as important as humans are in this world we live in.
Just by supporting us here at ATOLEA, you are taking that noble step towards protecting and preserving all the marine creatures!
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