Humpback Whales

Humpback Whales

Humpback Whales

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PO Box 10205
The Falls
Northmead
Benoni
1522
SOUTH AFRICA
Skype:
         Madagascar Xperience
E-mail:
  info@madxperience.com
 booking@madxperience.com
  jolene@madxperience.com
SOUTH AFRICA (Head Office):
Tel:  +(27) 11 425 1169
Fax: +(27) 86 553 9093
Cell: +(27) 72 827 7158
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Humpback whales migrating from their summer feeding grounds in the Antartic, arrive at St Marie Island yearly in July and stay around these waters till the first week in October to mate and give birth. During the summer months they feed in the more nutrient rich waters of the polar regions but they have to move to the more wamer tropical waters in the winter months to calf. The reason for that is the calves with not enough insulating blabber cannot survive the colder polar waters. it takes one and a half months for the whales to travel from the South Pole and they loose up to 33% of their bodyweight during the 4800km jourmey. The gestation period of 11 to 12 months are closely linked to the timing of their annual migration. Those that have mated the previous year will come back this year to give birth at the tropical watrers around St Marie.
 
The whales arrive during the first week of July and most are still in their migration process to the shallow and safe waters of the Bay of Antogil 160km north of St Marie where the cows will give birth. After giving birth they will start moving south and many cows with calves can be observed lingering betweenSt Marie and the mainland of Madagascar often in very close viewing of the shore.
 
Males competing for females that haven't calved often indulge in spectacular forcefull displays of breaching, head lunging and slapping to create explotions of water to intimidate their opponents.
 
Humpback whales often entertain the visitor with breathtaking displays of breaching (jumping completely out of the water ), tail slapping and flipper slapping while swimming on their backs. These behaviours are important ways of communicating between Humpback whales.
 
Humpback whales are also renowned for their singing abilities and the male produces one of the most complex songs in the entire animal kingdom. La Petite Traversee's whale watching boat is equipped with a underwater microphone to enable their guests to listen to the whales singing. Only males sing and all the males in the same region sing the same song. The song itself changes over time and generally occur during the breeding season. The sound frequencies that whales use are between 30 hertz ( humans can only hear from 100 hertz upwards ) and 8 khz, therefor humans can only hear part of the whale song. A typical song lasts from 10 to 20 minutes and is repeated continuously for hours at a time.
 
Humpback whales have been protected since 1966 and their numbers are slowly recovering. At the moment it is estimated there are about 35 000 to 40 000 worldwide, 33% of their original population. In the 19th century they were nearly hunted to extinction by the Soviets.
 
At La Petite Traversee during the months July to first week in October, the priviliege to view these magnifiscent creatures gives the visitor and us a fantastic offshore bonus and thats why the waters around St Marie are rated as one of the worlds best Humpback whale viewing sites.
A Humpback Whale in full action
A Humpback Whale breaching
 Side Flipper Slapping
Tail Slapping
 Humpback Whales Fact Sheet
Class
Colour
Length
Weight
Fins
Food
Mating & Breeding
Young
Distribution & Migration
Mammel.
Black upper side and white on under side 
Adult males between 12 to 18 meters
Between 22 680 to 36 287kg 
Swimming on back while flipper slapping
Flippers up to 4m in length and tail up to 5.5m wide
                      Feeds on small shrimp like creatures and eat up to 1361kg per day. Only feed during summer months.
                                                           Sexual maturity at 6 to 10 years or when males reach 11.6m and females 12m. Females bear a calf every 2 to 3 years and gestation period is about 12 months. 
                            Calf is between 3 and 4.5m long and weighs up to 907kg at birth. Can drink up to 500 liters of milk with a very high fat content per day. Calf is weaned at the age of one year.
                                                                         Most Humpback whales follow a regular migration route, summering in the polar waters for feeding, wintering in the tropical waters for mating and calving.
Ageing
Breaching
                          Between 45 and 50 years although some researchers claim up to 70 years.