Fourteen whale species are classified as baleens. They include the blue whale, the bowhead, and the Humpback. The blue whale is the largest species of baleen. They can grow up to 100 feet in length. The bowhead variety of whale resides almost exclusively in arctic waters. They are big whales and rare. Ruth & I attended a lecture on Humpback whales while on the cruise. Our host named Amy claimed to be passionate about whales. She knew a lot about them but was addressing a group who knew far less about her subject than she did. She assumed we knew more than we did.
Humpback whales live in two places; Alaska and Hawaii. Humpback whales are always born in Hawaii where they are known as koholas. They travel to Alaska to feed. When the females get pregnant, they go to Hawaii to have their young. They give birth to a single calf, and both Mama and the baby have hair on their heads. They live on krill while in Alaska. Humpbacks have two blowholes which close when they are not excited. Fish that have been swallowed can’t escape through these blowholes.
Humpback whales derive from land animals like crocodiles. They returned to the ocean but still need to breathe. They can’t echolocate, but they do make noises. These sounds remind humans of songs and all the males sing the same song. The song changes constantly. They sing only in Hawaii. They migrate 2,500 miles to Alaska without a stop to feed, traveling from four to six weeks. Many include the big bay near Monterey, CA in their travels. While migrating, humpbacks never feed but survive the distance on their blubber. They go to Alaska mainly to breed and feed because they have no enemies there, but they always return to Hawaii if they get pregnant and need to give birth.
Orcas are their only predators. Baby humpbacks are nine to twelve feet long on the average. Humpback mamas raise a calf for about a year. They go to Alaska mainly to feed because krill and the other small species they feed on are plentiful there. They travel close to the surface and leap into the air much more often than other whales do.
Humpback whales are not endangered. There are approximately eighty thousand of them currently. People go to Alaska mainly to see animals. We saw no whales or bears because we were not there during their seasons or while they were migrating. We did, however, see seals, sea otters, and lots of eagles.