Humpbacks moving in numbers
THE waters off the Gladstone coast are like a super highway of humpbacks as that species of whale and others make their way to and from the Antarctic.
Fishermen out of Seventeen Seventy say they have seen record numbers of humpbacks – mothers and calves and some large pods – heading north to breed and give birth or south to gorge themselves in the rich southern oceans before returning north. And on Wednesday morning a mother and her calf were seen playing just off the headland south of Agnes Water. The large female’s distinctive black and white tail remained visible above water for up to 20 minutes at a time. The mother whale may have been singing her whale song.
Curator of Queensland Museum Dr Steve Van Dyck said it was common to see humpbacks off the Discovery Coast as they followed migratory patterns up and down the coast between the warm tropical waters and the krill-rich southern oceans.
“When the whale puts the head down and the tail out of the water that can be seen as a typical position when they are singing,” Dr Van Dyck said.
Whale song is common when mothers and calves are together and can mean several things including communication with others, including males that may be in the vicinity.
Whale song generally lasts between five and 20 minutes and may be so loud as to be heard more than 100km away.
Humpbacks live for up to 50 years and may grow to more than 15 metres and can weigh more than 50 tonnes.