insights from the ultimate cruising team

Whales Actually Wail, And 9 Other Facts That Will Blow(hole) Your Mind

Whales Actually Wail, And 9 Other Facts That Will Blow(hole) Your Mind

If you’ve ever heard the song of a humpback, you’ll know what we mean when we say it’s hauntingly beautiful. Long, melodic compositions lasting up to 20 minutes long, and often repeated for hours on end. Each humpback population has their own dialect, and their own whale song. Funnily enough, it’s only the males that sing and they aren’t born knowing how to sing – they learn from their elders.

Hearing and seeing the humpback whale brings home just how incredible these massive creatures are. Here are some quick and interesting facts about humpback whales:

  • Although not the largest whale (Blue, Sperm, Right and Finback whales are all larger), the humpback females can grow to 15-16 metres long, with males slightly shorter.
  • Humpbacks consume approximately 1.5 tonnes of krill… per day! Over a lifespan of 50 odd years, that’s a lot of krill!
  • Of course, when one eats that much krill, one can’t expect to be a featherweight. Humpbacks can weigh as much as 40 tonnes – the equivalent of about 20 cars.
  • Don’t expect any toothy smiles from these whales! They have no teeth. Instead, they have baleen plates that separate the water from the food.

  • Although they may be lacking in the teeth department, they make up for it in the blow hole arena, boasting two blow holes – one for each massive car-sized lung.
  • Mothers feed their babies for a year but the babies continue to grow until they are 10 years old. Calves will drink up to 600 litres of milk each day.
  • Humpbacks migrate from their feeding summer feeding grounds around Antarctica or Alaska to warmer winter breeding waters closer to the equator.

  • During their migration, they can travel up to 25,000 kilometres, making them the furthest travelling animals in the world. They feed in the winter months and store the energy so that they can concentrate on the migration and mating during the summer months.
  • Humpbacks actually cry. When they lose a family member or feel sad or lonely, humpbacks produce loud moan or whines which are sometimes mistaken for the whale song, however the whale cry is understood to be more like mourning.
  • Humpbacks are not the fastest whale which made them easy targets for hunters. They are now considered endangered.

Humpback whales (among others) are often spotted during Antarctica cruises during the months of November, December and January. This is when they are feeding up and getting ready for the next migration and breeding season so you may be lucky enough to see them forming bubbles to shepherd the fish into one spot, or slapping their fins on the water to stun the fish, before scooping up a huge mouthful of hundred of fish and krill. It is a sight to behold and just one of the many awaiting on an Antarctica voyage.


They are also often spotted in Western Australia and The Kimberley in July and August during their migration.  In fact this is the largest humpback whale migration with up to 50,000 cruising throughout these waters each year!


Ask us about the options for cruising The Kimberley or Antarctica in the 2021 or 2022 seasons.