HUMPBACK WHALE (Megaptera novaeangliae)
Humpback Whales travel great distances during their seasonal migration, the farthest migration of any mammal. They feed only during the summer months in polar waters and migrate every year to tropical and subtropical waters, including the east coast of Africa, to breed and give birth, visiting Tofo from around June until late October. During the winter months they fast, living simply off their fat reserves.
The Humpback Whales are a species of baleen whale, with adults ranging in length from
12 to 16 meters and weighting about 36 tonnes. Adult females are larger than adult
males, reaching lengths of up to 18 meters. They are known for their long pectoral fins
which can be up to 4.6 meters long, and which give them increased maneuverability
allowing them to slow down or even go backwards. Their body is primarily dark grey
with a variable amount of white on their pectoral fins and belly. The pigmentation patterns
on the underside of their flukes are unique to each individual, much like those of Whale
Sharks and Manta Rays, and can be used to identify individual Humpback Whales.
The Humpback Whales are filter feeders, their diet consisting mainly of krill and small
fish, and they have a diverse repertoire of feeding methods, one of which is the bubble
net feeding technique. The whales often jump fully out of the water (breaching), or hold
their tails high out of the water for quite long periods of time (sailing) and slap their tails
and fins on the surface, which is a behaviour associated with mating. While diving, it is
possible to hear them “singing” to one another – a sound that can be heard from up to
2 km away. It is important not to disturb these creatures, especially mothers with calves,
so boats are advised to keep a respectable distance of no less than 200 meters away.
PLEASE NOTE THAT AN ENCOUNTER WITH HUMPBACK WHALES CAN NEVER BE GUARANTEED ON A PARTICULAR OCEAN SAFARI OR DIVE!! This is what makes the wild so special; every day is just unique!