Better start makin’ e-vites for a dinner party, ’cause you’re about to have some seriously random maui whale watching knowledge to share.
Cool Things You Didn’t Know About Humpback Whales
#1 They Don’t Eat the Entire Time They’re in Hawaii
I don’t know about y’all, but I’d be one grumpy whale if nature told me I had to swim thousands of miles and didn’t get to eat for months. But alas, the whales seem pretty alright with it, considering they eat an average of 1 to 1 and a half tons of food per day while in Alaska. By the time they arrive in Hawaii, they’re ready to survive off a thick layer of blubber until they return to Alaskan waters, where huge masses of ultimately doomed plankton, krill and small fish await their demise.
#2 They’re Polygynous
Male whales do not play a role in the lives of their calves. Females often breed with many different males throughout their lifetime, typically giving birth once every two to three years, almost never with the same mate. It’s believed that females have the final say when choosing a partner.
#3 Their Throat is the Size of a Grapefruit
If you’re afraid of getting eaten by a whale, you should get new fears. Humpback whales are filter feeders, and while their tongue is the size of a small vehicle, the opening of their throat is only around the size of a large grapefruit. They literally couldn’t swallow you if they tried.
#4 They Sing the Same Song
All male whales in a particular humpback whale population (the females don’t sing) can be heard repeating the same version of the same song, which gradually changes over time. It’s been said that they even pick up exactly where they left off when they return the following year. Whoa!
#5 Their Birth has Never Been Documented
We doubt that’s the next topic you’re dying to binge-watch on Netflix, but still. Although the primary reason for their journey to Hawaii is to give birth in the warm, shallow waters surrounding the islands, no one has ever witnessed or recorded a humpback whale giving birth.
#6 Not all Humpback Populations Migrate
Humpback whales are found in oceans throughout the world, but the population in the Arabian Sea is the only one in the world that does not migrate. Researchers suggest that this population may have remained completely separate for 70,000 years.
#7 They Have Predators
Orca (aka killer) whales are the top predators for humpback whales, although sick or weak whales have also been targeted by sharks. It is the mother’s job to teach her calf how to swim and protect itself to make the long, and sometimes dangerous, swim back to Alaskan waters by summer months.
#8 They’re Protected
While they may face danger from predators in the water, humpback whales are now protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, NOAA’s Endangered Species Act of 1973, and Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna And Flora Treaty of 1973. Under this protection, whales cannot be owned by anyone, and it is illegal to harass, corral, injure, kill, or trade them between countries.
#9 They Love Maui
Who can blame ’em?! Actually, whales particularly love Auau Channel, the shallow area between West Maui, Lana’i and Moloka’i, one of the most popular breeding grounds in Hawaii.
#10 They’re Still a Giant Mystery
While there’s a lot that we’ve figured out about these amazing animals over the last 40+ years, and to be clear, by we I mean society, there’s still a ton we don’t know, including the specific reasons they breach, sing, and many other fascinating questions about their behavior and movement.
Bonus: They Fly
For more information about humpback whales, or how to see them during your trip to Maui, please visit Maui Whale Watching. Mahalo for reading, and happy humpback whale month! Most of the photography was shot by Natalie Brown Photography.