Humpback whales perform migration spectacle

In one of nature’s greatest spectacles every year a huge procession of humpback whales pass along Australia’s east coast on an annual 10,000km migration from Antarctica to their breeding grounds in the tropics.

During this migration, Sydney, Australia has a front row seat to it all. Thousands watch as the whale pods travel north, and these glorious mammals can be seen from the city’s beaches, cliffs and boats. Often times the whales will pass by within yards of the tourists. The humpbacks are the size of a bus and they will hurl themselves high out of the sea off Sydney’s North Head, before crashing down in a mass of foam and spray. It is a spectacular show for all who witness it.

The number of whales passing through is staggering. A record-breaking number of them, about 15,000, will eventually pass along Australia's east coast between May and November as the humpbacks continue their long recovery from commercial hunting. Whaling was banned almost 50 years ago. By the time the whaling stations were shut down in 1963, the coastal population of humpbacks had been reduced tragically to just a little over 100 whales.

The good news though is that each year, the number seen swimming in the waters off Sydney is thought to be increasing by about 10%. The humpbacks still face a range of threats though, including climate change and pollution, but there is great optimism that the species will continue to rebound from their exploitation of the past.

Acording to Will Ford, the director of Whale Watching Sydney, the mammals’ extraordinary trek was delayed this year by the El Nino weather pattern, but they have returned in greater numbers. He states that, “They start down in the Great Southern Ocean around Antarctica, which is where their feeding grounds are in summer time, and over two or three months they will swim all the way from that area all the way up to the tropics, so almost a quarter of the Earth’s circumference.”

“The amazing thing is that most of the whales won’t eat on that whole migration, so they are doing it all basically on an empty stomach." All in all about 40 species of whales and dolphins have been found in Australian waters which is quite spectacular to think about.

Australians love their whales and they have become vociferous critics of Japan’s 'scientific whaling program' in the Antarctic, which is simply a front for commercial hunting of them. The Japanese target minke and fin whales, but not the huge humpbacks. In order to put a stop to Japan’s whaling activities, Australia is taking legal action in the international courts against them. Godspeed in their endeavor to end Japan's slaughter of these magnificent creatures!

Responses to "Humpback Whales pass by Australia in amazing numbers and put on quite a show"

  1. SASS says:

    beautiful... they must have some recognition that the waters are safe around... testimony to environmental efforts in australia

  2. Unknown says:

    I would love to see that, it must be simply amazing! They are absolutely huge! Great story and I hope they can stop the japanese from killing them!

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