Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)
Another species of baleen whale. It is one of the larger rorqual species. The humpback has a distinctive body shape, with long pectoral fins and a knobbly head. It is known for breaching and other distinctive surface behaviors, making it popular with whale watchers. Males produce a complex song lasting 10 to 20 minutes, which they repeat for hours at a time. All the males in a group will produce the same song, which is different each season. Its purpose is not clear, though it may help induce estrus in females.
- Length; 12-16 metres,
- Weight; 25-30 tons,
- Life span; 45-50 years.
- Gestation period: 1 year
Found in oceans and seas around the world, humpback whales typically migrate up to 25,000 km each year. They feed in polar waters, and migrate to tropical or subtropical waters to breed and give birth, fasting and living off their fat reserves. Their diet consists mostly of krill and small fish. Humpbacks have a diverse repertoire of feeding methods, including the bubble net technique.
Like other large whales, the humpback was a target for the whaling industry. The species was once hunted to the brink of extinction; its population fell by an estimated 90% before a 1966 moratorium. While numbers have partially recovered to some 80,000 animals worldwide, entanglement in fishing gear, collisions with ships and noise pollution continue to affect the species.
Lucky for us the Humpback Whale population is rebounding in the Pacific. In 2020 there were 116 individual whales photo identified between Johnstone Strait and Comox, and in 2021 there we 21 new calves reported in BC waters.
Females will lose 1/3 to 1/2 of their body mass, as the calf gains weight. Mom’s will nurse her calf for approximately 10 months.
Songs are not the only vocalizations made by humpback whales, they are also used in feeding and socializing.
We’re lucky to have those amazing mammals so close to Campbell River. If you’re wondering when you can see whales on Vancouver Island, the best season is from May to October as they feed off our coasts.