10 Fun Facts About Humpback Whales in Maui

Whale Watching

Whale season in Hawaii refers to the return of the north pacific humpback whales every winter. While the cycle varies slightly every year, most people consider whale season to run from December to April. To get you ready for whale season, here are 10 fun facts about humpback whales.

  1. Most humpback whales don’t actually have a hump on their back. Instead, the name is derived from the hump that appears when they arch their backs prior diving.
  2. A humpback whale head is covered with tubercles (knobs). Each knob contains at least one piece of stiff hair. The purpose of the hair is not known, though some believe it’s used to detect motion.
  3. Humpback whales have two blowholes, one for each lung. Their lungs are roughly the size of a Toyota Prius. Unlike humans, the whales need to think about breathing. This is why they sleep with one eye open and only rest half of their brain at a time.
  4. Humpbacks have live births. Their pregnancy cycle lasts for about year. Once born, calves drink about 50 gallons of milk per day.
  5. Like fingerprints, each whale has distinct markings on the underside of their tails. Scientists use these markings to identify and track individual whales.
  6. The whales do not feed in Hawaii. However, when they hunt during the summer months in the northwest, they use a technique called bubble net fishing whereby they will circle and blow bubbles at their prey until the prey is contained in a tight ball.
  7. Humpback whales don’t have teeth. Rather they have what’s called baleen plates. These plates act like a filter, separating the tiny krill shrimp they eat from the water.
  8. The north pacific humpbacks are the fifth largest whale species on the planet and can grow to 60-feet long and weigh between 25 – 40 tons. Like most whales, females are longer than males. The whales have huge tails, measuring up to 18 feet wide.
  9. Humpback whale “songs” were first recorded in the early 1950s right here in Hawaii. Recent research has found that the songs last roughly between 7-to-30 minutes, though they often repeat songs for hours on end. The songs can be heard up to 20 miles away.
  10. Only the male humpbacks sing. The ability to sing is not something they are born with, rather they are taught at a young age.

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