Local humpback whales rushing back to Antarctica for feeding season

Local humpback whales rushing back to Antarctica for feeding season

OUR big blue backyard has just become an ocean highway, writes AQWA operations manager Sasha Thompson.

THIS time of year, the ocean you gaze out at becomes a highway as hungry humpback whales rush back to Antarctica, guiding their newborn calves with them.

These ocean giants make one of the longest migrations in the animal kingdom travelling north for the winter to relax, mate and give birth in warm water before heading back to their icy feeding grounds in Antarctica where they spend the summer eating.

What has always fascinated me is that the humpbacks migrating along our coast are WA “locals”; they only migrate along our coast and even in Antarctica they do not mix with east coast humpbacks nor those migrating to and from South America and Africa.

There are even distinct cultural differences such as the songs they sing.

Nicknamed for the way they hump their back before diving, their scientific name “megaptera” means ‘big winged’ and refers to their side fins that reach 5m in length.

As well as their singing, humpback whales are known for their acrobatics; slapping fins, holding their tails in the air and even leaping out of the water are all behaviours that you may be lucky enough to see on a whale watch tour.

Several companies operate tours.

Rottnest Fast Ferries and Mills Charters depart from Hillarys Boat Harbour and have AQWA guides on board.