One of the best places in the world to view a humpback whale up-close is in Sydney, Australia. Whales migrate from Antarctic waters to the NSW/Queensland area each year. The extra-large animals leave their summer feeding grounds so they can calve and breed in the north. As a result, the northern migration of the whales is seen in Sydney from May through August. The whales migrate south, or return to the Antarctic, from August to December.
Mating Season—Listening to the Whale Songs
The humpback whale is a marine mammal that belongs to one of 80+ species of animals known as cetacea. Whales of this type are identified by their aerial acrobats, whale songs, and large size. People who whale watch frequently hear the songs during the humpback’s mating season.
Male whales sing songs to the females with whom they wish to mate. Because whales are big, the sounds they emit can be heard for long distances. People hear a combination of howls, moans, and cries that may continue for hours.
An Exciting Up-close Experience
When it comes to their physical size, adult humpback whales are usually about 50 feet long and weigh as much as 40+ tonnes. One of the largest humpbacks was almost 90 feet in length. The marine animals, which are usually black or dark grey, display white patches on their bellies and knobs, known as tubercles, on their heads. Whale watching in Sydney is indeed an exciting experience.
Why the Whale Is Called a Humpback
When viewing a whale up-close, you will notice that its back is flat. A small dorsal fin is situated on the back as well. When the humpback swims, it sometimes arches its back, which gives the appearance of a large hump—thus, the name “humpback.”
Unlike what some people believe, the humpback does not possess teeth but baleen plates instead. These plates feature bristles that catch various small prey. The bristles are positioned together so that any small prey cannot escape. However, they do allow enough room for the passage of water. The whales also sport two blowholes on top of their heads.
During the summer, the whales feed in the colder regions, such as Antarctica and Alaska, where they have a banquet of fish, squid, and krill. As soon as winter arrives, the mammals begin their migration to their mating grounds located in warmer waters. Therefore, humpbacks experience two seasons—feeding season in the summer months and mating season during the wintertime.
During a whale migration, whales will travel as far as 16,000 miles. As a result, a humpback migration is one of the longest migrations in the world. Despite their consumption of large amounts of food during the feeding months, whales often do not eat during the mating months. During this time, they primarily live off their stores of fat.
If you are planning a trip to Australia, watching the whales is a must-do activity. Visiting Sydney becomes a unique experience when you include watching the whales on your travel itinerary.