Good luck little fella..
We see humpback whales every day we go out whale watching, but you never know what you will see in terms of behaviours displayed by those whales. Well today’s cruise had everything! We had a couple of very close approaches, with two big adult whales swimming up to the boat and right under the bow to have a good look at us. We had a young whale breaching and showing off for us. And we even saw our first baby whale of this season!
Humpback whale babies are already 3-5m long when they are born and already weigh over a ton. But they are actually quite skinny (for a whale!) as they are not born with the protective blubber layer which insulates the adults and keeps them warm even in the cold southern ocean around Antarctica. That’s why these whales migrate north, to give birth in the warmer tropical waters, because the calves would not survive if they were born in Antarctic waters. Female humpbacks are pregnant for around one year and they give birth to the baby while on the breeding grounds off northern Queensland. So usually we see the young calves a little bit later in the season, from about mid to late August, when the mothers are starting to make their way back South towards Antarctica. But occasionally we get newborn calves in July that were just born a little bit too early, while the mother is still on the way north towards the breeding season. Those little newborns like the one we saw today are very small, really just like a big dolphin. They are often a lighter grey in colour and often still have a floppy folded over dorsal fin. The fins are very soft and curled up when the baby whales are born and then straighten out within a few days. Today’s little one still had a slightly bent over dorsal fin so I’m guessing he wasn’t more than a week or two old. Very cute! Mum was certainly quite protective, staying very close to the baby’s side.
Good luck little fella, hope to see you again in a few months on the way back South!
Eco Ranger Ina