People and Places
Thar she blows! By Kate Sears

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If you’re lucky, you might catch these guys having a whale of a time in Port Phillip Bay as they take a break during their annual migration from the Antarctic to Queensland.

Every year between May and August, humpback whales make their way north along the Victorian coastline to their subtropical breeding grounds off the Queensland coast, where they mate and give birth. During September and November they make their way back south along the coastline bound for the Southern Ocean to stock up on food and prepare for the next mating season.

If you’re hoping for a glimpse of these majestic mammals in our backyard, their distinctive ‘blow’ is often the first thing to look out for. The ‘blow’ is a cloud of vapour that the whale shoots into the air when it breaks the surface to breathe, and it can be up to 4m high. The humpback whale is the easiest to recognise thanks to a humped area of blubber behind its dorsal fin that is accentuated by the arching of its back when it dives.

Breaching is an amazing sight. It’s when a humpback whale launches itself out of the water in an impressive acrobatic display. A breach can be seen from a great distance, and it’s an action that is one of the most dramatic and awe-inspiring in the animal kingdom.

Female humpbacks are larger than the males, which is common among baleen whales, growing to up to 16m in length and weighing up to 50 tonnes. This makes them one of the largest species of whale. These majestic creatures cruise at a speed of up to 7km/h and over the course of a year can travel more than 25,000km. A healthy humpback whale can live for 100 years.

Now, get those binoculars out!



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