Humpbacks feed only in summer, in polar waters where their diet consists mostly of krill and small fish. In the winter the Humpbacks migrate to tropical or sub-tropical waters to court, breed and give birth. During this time, they fast and live off their fat reserves. The Females, because of the gestation period of 11.5 months, typically breed every two or three years.
Courtship competition is fierce. Groups of two to twenty males will gather around a single female or mother-calf dyad and exhibit a variety of behaviors over several hours to establish dominance. This male group size will change as unsuccessful males retreat and others arrive to compete. The behaviors these aggressive males display include breaching, spy-hopping, lob-tailing, tail-slapping, fin-slapping, peduncle throws, charging and parrying.
Both male and female humpback whales vocalize, however it is only the males that produce the ‘whale songs’ for which the species is famous. These beautiful & almost haunting songs can last from 10 to 20 minutes and the Humpbacks may sing continuously for more than 24 hours. As they have no vocal cords, they generate their song by forcing air through their massive nasal cavities.
We have watched the Humpback courtship in Mexico and our bucket list includes swimming with these majestic animals in the Silver Banks in Dominican Republic. The Humpbacks are in Dominican Republic in January to March. We can't wait. In the meantime, we'd like to thank Aquatic Adventures for allowing us to use their amazing footage included here today.