Did you know?
A whaleshark's skin is thicker and tougher than any other species
- Humpback Whale Swimming
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More About Humpback Whales
Click to listen to samples of humpback whale song
More information about the humpback whale below:
Ningaloo’s humpback whales are truly wild animals moving freely in the open ocean. They are part of the biggest migrating humpback whale population in the world – estimated at up to 40,000 animals.
When combined with our whale tour boats being able to approach to just 50m from the whales when dropping whale swimmers, it makes the Ningaloo possibly the best place in Australia to come out on a whale-watching tour.
Ningaloo Whaleshark Swim’s whale swimming and whale-watching tours in the big blue of the Ningaloo are designed to provide amazing opportunities to interact with these stunning creatures, and also to savour the amazing wildlife of the World Heritage listed Ningaloo Reef too.
However as with any wildlife tour and interaction, there may be times of greater or lesser activity, and not every one of our whale swimming tours will result in an in-water interaction – though almost all of our whale-watching tours should. What we can guarantee though is Ningaloo Whaleshark Swim’s crew will be doing everything we possibly can to give you this opportunity!!!
Humpback Whale Behaviors
From August through to October, the Indian Ocean off the Ningaloo Reef (the largest fringing reef on the globe) is visited by the biggest migrating humpback whale population in the world (estimated at 40,000 humpbacks and growing!)
Humpback whales live in oceans all around the world. They usually feed only during summer months on krill and small fish, then live off their fat reserves when birthing and raising their calves. Historically humpbacks were one of the preferred species targeted by the whaling industry, with whale oil and ambergris of enormous value as a source of energy and for perfumes respectively. However since the worldwide ban on whaling, global populations of many species of whales such as the humpback have been increasing exponentially.
The humpback whale has a very distinctive body shape, with a massive tail, a broader knobbly head, and long pectoral fins. Adults can grow to 15-16m in length, with the females growing to be larger than their male counterparts, and weighing up to 36,000 kgs! Massive is an understatement when encountering an adult humpback whale up close!
Whale song is created when a whale forces air through its nasal cavities (“blowholes”). And it’s the males, not the females, that produce the iconic whalesong that is so eerie and breath-taking. And bone-shaking if you happen to be near a whale as it sings, as the sound literally passes right through you!
Its purpose is still unclear – it may be attracting a mate swimming literally hundreds of kilometres away, or for echo-location on a truly grand scale, or even challenging other male humpbacks in the general vicinity.
What is fascinating is that humpbacks in the same location sing the same song…. and that this slowly changes over time, and varies from ocean to ocean as well!
As for the whaleshark, what we do know is that we don’t know very much about this amazing animal. We do know though that whalesong is a phenomena that resonates and appeals to many humans on a very deep, almost incomprehensible level.
We look forward to playing the whale song to you through our in-water microphone broadcasting over our onboard speakers, and you perhaps getting to listen to it during your snorkels on the Ningaloo Reef.
Humpback Whale Surface Displays
Breaching is a stunning display of strength and agility. It involves a whale propelling itself straight upwards out of the depths, leaping mostly or completely out of the water, and then crashing back into the waves on its side. It is the humpback’s iconic and truly spectacular surface display and something they do more often and to greater effect than any other species of whale.
Likely used to communicate, tail slapping sees the humpback lifting its massive tail out of the water and slapping it down to create a huge splash and a massive sound similar to gunshot in sound and volume. Its audible above and below the surface too, and will often result in another whale answering with a tail slap of its own.
Pectoral Fin Slaps
Pec slapping involves a humpback whale swimming on its back or side repeatedly swinging its massive side fins onto the surface of the water. This creates a splash and sound similar to tail-slapping.
Is when a whale gets curious and wants to have a better look around what is happening above the surface. It floats rapidly upwards (rather than swims) and then thrusts its head above the surface to enable it to look at something of interest. This is relatively rare because of how far back the eyes are on a humpback’s head – most involve the whale just bringing its eyes to the surface.