This giant humpback whale was photographed leaping out of the water off the coast of South Africa in 2014 in an amazing display of strength.
In winter breeding grounds like Hawai‘i and Mexico, migrating humpback whales arrived later, left earlier, and showed up in fewer numbers than normal. Especially notable was the decline in females and calves.
Observers in the Philippines and Japan also recorded a similarly low whale count in those places.
Orca and sharks are the humpback's only natural predators and both those species have also declined in number in the past 5 years.
ABOVE: A 'supergroup' of 200 humpbacks.
"The gatherings occurred in the Benguela Upwelling System, ocean currents off the southwestern tip of South Africa between St. Helena Bay and Cape Point.
The groups were not only surprising for their size, which ranged from 20 to 200, but also the time of year in which they were spotted.
Scientists recorded their presence off the African coast in October and November (late summer in South Africa) when they typically migrate to Antarctic waters to feed.
The whales were clearly feeding, according to the new study published in the journal PLOS One. The researchers observed the whales diving vertically, turning tightly and performing other maneuvers that indicated they were feeding. The color of their poop and a fishy odor while clearing their blowholes also suggested that they were mid hunt.
[NOTE: An adult humpback will eat an average of about 1 to 1.5 tons of krill and small fish per day during the summer months in the cold, nutrient rich waters of Alaska.]
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Ken Findlay lead author of the study from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in South Africa tells Locklear.
The researchers hope to continue their study the whale parties and figure out what types and concentrations of prey are drawing the whales to Benguela."
[NOTE: This article states that humpback numbers may have reached have around 150,000 individuals, something many see as impossible given the number of females capable of reproduction and the gestation period of 11 months and that calves remain dependent for a year at least.
60,000 HUMPBACKS WORLDWIDE IS A MORE ACCEPTABLE NUMBER.
Humpback whales do not become sexually mature until the age of 4-8.years. A female gives birth every 2-3 three years.]
1,000 HUMPBACKS FILMED IN JUST ONE 'SUPERGROUP' OFF AFRICA IN 2014.
WHILE THESE HUGE GATHERINGS OF HUMPBACKS LOOKS PROMISING FOR THE SPECIES,
IN 2015-2016 THE DEATHS OF 14 HUMPBACKS, 11 FIN WHALES, 1 GRAY WHALE AND 4 'UNIDENTIFIED' WERE REPORTED, CAUSING NOAA TO DECLARE AN "UNUSUAL MORTALITY EVENT".
THAT ADDS UP TO 30 DEATHS, BUT THEIR CHART FOR THE EVENT SHOWS 45 DEATHS.
IN 2015 AND 25 IN 2016.
NOAA MATH, IT'S SPECIAL.
2015-2016 Large Whale Unusual Mortality Event in the Western Gulf of Alaska
The marine mammal UME program was established in 1991. From 1991 to the present, there have been 62 formally recognized UMEs in the U.S., involving a variety of species and dozens to hundreds of individual marine mammals per event.
FOR A LIST OF UMEs, GO TO <THIS NOAA WEBSITE> AND BE SURE TO LOOK AT THEIR CHARTS THERE.
THE FOLLOWING ARE NEWS ARTICLES ABOUT ONLY HUMPBACK WHALE DEATHS, ALL OF WHICH ARE FROM JUST 2016 AND I ONLY LIST A FEW. THERE WERE MANY MORE.
Scientists Seek Cause of Whale Death, New Hampshire, July 4, 2016 -
Cause of humpback whale's death remains a mystery on Oregon coast
Humpback Whale Found Dead in Amagansett, Long Island
Dead whale towed off Los Angeles beach ahead of holiday
Humpback whale dies in Seattle's Fauntleroy Cove
Dead Humpback Whale That Washed Ashore Near Southhampton
Sad News: Washed Up Humpback Whale in New Jersey Shore Died
Dead humpback whale washes up in same area of Nova Scotia coast where a mass die-off of fish and crustaceans appeared
The death of a humpback whale found under a Navy dock Wednesday in Sinclair Bay, Washington has stumped researchers.
Humpback Whale dies in Waters Off the Coast of Belize
LIKE I SAID, THAT IS BY NO MEANS ALL THE REPORTS FROM 2016, ONLY 10 LISTED HERE, BUT ADD THE 30-70 TOTAL IN/NEAR ALASKA AND OFF THE COAST OF CANADA AND THE FOLLOWING SIX FROM HAWAII AND IT IS MOST DISTURBING HOW MANY HUMPBACKS HAVE RECENTLY DIED.
A record number of six humpbacks washed ashore in Hawaii last season, following another record in of 5 dead in 2013.
That’s double the number typically found in a season, which runs from November to May. In winter, humpback whales travel from Alaska to breed and give birth in Hawaii waters.
The six whale carcasses were too decomposed for biologists to do necropsies.
THEIR AMAZING YEARLY JOURNEYS
Humpback whales travel just over 3,000 miles from their Alaskan feeding grounds to their Hawaiian breeding grounds. The round trip is about 6,000 miles and they travel approximately 3-7 miles per hour.
Humpback whales breed, calve and nurse in Hawai'i in the winter (November-May), then migrate to the Gulf of Alaska and other areas in the North Pacific to feed primarily in the summer (May-November).
While in the Hawaiian Islands, they’re there for two reasons and two reasons alone: to mate and to give birth. While near the islands they are not known to feed much, if at all.
That means they get all of their nutrition while they’re in Alaska. They pack on the pounds while in the nutrient rich and productive Alaskan waters and then rely on those fat stores to support them on the journey to Hawaii, during the mating season, and on the return journey.
[One theory for more deaths is that, with their population up worldwide] more whales [means] increased competition for already dwindling prey availability in Alaska.
Also notable, the 2015-16 season, saw the fewest total number of whales that made the journey in five years, as reported on Hawaii News Now.
Hakai Magazine, May 25, 2016
“It almost seemed as if the females didn’t bother to show up."
The density of cows and calves was especially low.
Only 8 percent of whale groups included a calf this year, compared to 33 percent in a normal year, says Chris Gabriele, a researcher with the non profit Hawaii Marine Mammal Consortium.
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, also saw fewer whales than normal says Oscar Frey, an oceanographer and the chief researcher for the nonprofit Deep Blue Conservancy.
“Normally, we see more than 1,000 humpbacks in a season, and this year we saw less than 400. The count was 378.” Frey adds that he observed “the least number of mothers with babies that I have ever seen.”
ONE OF MY LEAST FAVORITE "SCIENTISTS" ADMITTED SOMETHING I NEVER THOUGHT HE WOULD, BUT IT WAS NOT STATED IN CONCERN OF THE HIGH MORTALITY RATE AND 'DISAPPEARANCE' OF FEMALE HUMPBACKS AND CALVES. IT WAS, PERHAPS, UNINTENTIONALLY MENTIONED IN AN INTERVIEW TO ASSUAGE THE FEARS OF SOME THAT RADIATION HAD REACHED DANGEROUS LEVELS NEAR HAWAII AND THE WEST COAST.
AS ALWAYS, KENNY DOES DAMAGE CONTROL FOR THE BIG NUKE BOYS:
Ken Buesseler, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Jan 7, 2017:
“We know there can be health effects from exposure to any amount of radiation… the highest level we’ve seen north of Hawaii is 10 Becquerels per cubic meter.
Swimming through that for eight hours a day for an entire year could have possible health effects."
EIGHT HOURS A DAY, KENNY?
WHALES ARE IN THAT WATER FOR 24 HOURS A DAY!
DO THE MATH!
DO YOU THINK THEY CAN GO SOMEWHERE ELSE FOR 16 HOURS A DAY?
THEY SWIM EVERY MINUTE, ALL THEIR LIVES!
THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE IS QUITE INFORMATIVE AS TO THE BEHAVIOR OF ARCTIC WHALES WHO COME TO FEED AFTER THEIR LONG JOURNEY BACK FROM SOUTHERN WATERS AND BREEDING AND CALVING GROUNDS THERE.
THE TINY LABORATORY IN BRITISH COLUMBIA RECORDS WHALE SONGS 24/7.
Cetacea Lab—a 24/7 lab dedicated to researching whales—is perched on Whale Point, at the southern end of Gil Island off the coast of British Columbia.
AMAZING DISPLAY OF CARING FOR OTHER SPECIES
BOSTON GLOBE, AUG. 18, 2016
"In 2009, Robert Pitman saw something remarkable. From aboard a research vessel off Antarctica, he watched as a pod of killer whales knocked a seal from an ice floe and closed in for the kill. But before they could, a pair of humpback whales swooped in and rescued the seal, with one of the humpbacks rolling over and lifting the seal out of the water onto its chest, out of harm’s way.
Later, when Pitman and the other researchers reviewed film of the event, they were astounded to see just how deliberately the humpback seemed to be protecting the seal.
“In slow motion, you can see the seal starts to slide off, and the humpback takes its 15-foot flipper that weighs about a ton and nudges the seal back onto its chest,” says Pitman, a marine ecologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Seven years later, he has a new study in the journal Marine Mammal Science that concludes it is indeed. The paper draws on 115 observed interactions between humpbacks and killer whales — many submitted by “citizen scientists” who saw the interplay from recreational whale-watching boats — and concludes that humpbacks do in fact engage in what Pitman calls “inadvertent altruism” toward marine species like seals, sea lions, ocean sunfish, and even the calves of other whale species being attacked by killer whales.
“People who study whales have been working in an environment that’s been largely empty of whales,” says Pitman. “Now that they’re coming back, we’re going to see some things we didn’t know about whales.”
THESE ARE NOT "DUMB ANIMALS".
THEY COMMUNICATE, HELP EACH OTHER AND HAVE BEEN DOCUMENTED HELPING OTHER SPECIES IN DISTRESS, INCLUDING MAN, AND THEY EXHIBIT STRONG EMOTIONS.
AS NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC REPORTED, Whales Mourn Their Dead, Just Like Us.
WE ARE OFTEN TOLD THAT "Biologists are investigating to see if the whales starved or if there’s a problem with the ocean’s health", BUT AS I HAVE STATED BEFORE, WE NEVER GET A FINAL NECROPSY RESULT, EVEN AFTER 3 YEARS ON SOME.
ALGAE TOXICITY HAS BEEN RULED OUT.
WE'RE ALSO OFTEN TOLD THAT SCIENTISTS JUST COULDN'T GET TO A DEAD WHALE TO TAKE TISSUE SAMPLES.
THAT'S BS...THERE ARE PLENTY OF WAYS TO REACH THE CARCASSES.
IF A WHALE WASHED ASHORE, WHAT WOULD PREVENT COLLECTING SAMPLES ON A BEACH?
IF THEY LIE FAR OFFSHORE, AREN'T THEIR VESSELS THAT CAN SURELY REACH THOSE?
IF THEY LIE IN LAGOONS, OR NEAR ROCKY OUTCROPPINGS, PACIFIC ISLANDERS AND THE INDIGENOUS PACIFIC COASTAL TRIBES HAVE DEMONSTRATED FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARS HOW EASILY A KAYAK OR SIMILAR "PRIMITIVE' VESSELS CAN MANEUVER IN CLOSE QUARTERS TO RETRIEVE MARINE MAMMALS THAT THEY HUNT, INCLUDING WHALES.
MAYBE THE PEOPLE WITH NOAA JUST DON'T WANT TO REACH THEM?
THE INUIT, PACIFIC FISHERMEN, CANADIAN SCIENTISTS, AS WELL AS OTHERS ALL ALONG THE PACIFIC COAST, FROM ALASKA TO THE TIP OF CHILE, REPORT THAT MARINE MAMMALS AND SEA BIRDS ARE DYING FROM STARVATION.
THE FISH AND OTHER FOOD THEY COUNT ON TO SURVIVE JUST AREN'T AVAILABLE ANYMORE AND NO ONE KNOWS WHY, OR NO ONE IS SAYING WHY.
Southern Resident Killer Whales are Dying of Starvation
As salmon dwindle, whales die – Sept. 13, 2016- National Geographic Society
Mass deaths of Alaska seabirds linked to starvation IN 2015 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC WROTE:
Number of Starving Sea Lions in California 'Unprecedented'
Collapse of kelp forest imperils North Coast ocean ecosystem
ALSO FROM NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC:
Mass Death of Seabirds in Western U.S. Is 'Unprecedented'
WHAT IS KILLING THE FISH, THE CRABS, THE OYSTERS AND SCALLOPS, SEA URCHINS, THE SARDINES, MACKEREL, ALMOST ALL FOOD SOURCES IN THE PACIFIC?
WHAT IS KILLING THE MARINE MAMMALS, THE GREAT WHALES, THE SEA BIRDS, THE PLANKTON?
WHY CAN'T WE GET VALID ANSWERS AFTER THIS HAS BEEN GOING ON FOR AT LEAST THE PAST DECADE?
AFTER THAT LONG A PERIOD OF TIME, WHAT HAS 'SCIENCE' FOUND OUT?
THEY HAVE TO HAVE FOUND CAUSES! GLOBAL RESEARCH WROTE
“The Ocean is Dying”
According to Ocean Health:
"The waters of the Pacific off the coast of California are a clear, shimmering blue today, so transparent it’s possible to see the sandy bottom below […] clear water is a sign that the ocean is turning into a desert, and the chain reaction that causes that bitter clarity is perhaps most obvious on the beaches of the Golden State, where thousands of emaciated sea lion pups are stranded.
WHAT CAN BE DONE TO STOP IT?
THE TEA ROOM HAS BEEN REPORTING FOR OVER 6 YEARS NOW THAT THE PACIFIC IS BECOMING A DESERT, A WASTELAND, AS HAVE A FEW IN MAINSTREAM MEDIA, BUT THERE ARE NO CONCRETE REASONS WHY.
SHOULD WE RESIGN OURSELVES TO THE THOUGHT THAT NOTHING CAN BE DONE TO STOP THIS?
WILL WE JUST KEEP ACCEPTING THAT THIS IS ALL DUE TO "CLIMATE CHANGE"?
THIS IS UNPRECEDENTED!
SO MUCH DEATH IN OUR OCEANS HAS NEVER OCCURRED IN WRITTEN HISTORY, SO WE MUST NOT ACCEPT THAT NO ONE KNOWS WHY.
WE MUST DEMAND ANSWERS, ACTION FROM THOSE "SCIENTISTS" TO DETERMINE WHAT'S WRONG AND TELL US.
WE ARE BUT A LINK IN A GREAT CHAIN OF LIFE.
WHEN ONE LINK BREAKS, WE CAN EXPECT TO SEE THE WHOLE CHAIN FALL APART.
WE CAN'T 'BUILD' A HUMPBACK WHALE, A FISH, A BIRD, A SEA TURTLE AND WE CANNOT REPLACE AN OCEAN.
IF WE DON'T RESCUE THEM NOW, THEY'RE GONE FOREVER.
WITHOUT THEM, WITHOUT ALL ALL THAT SEA LIFE (MANY THAT SO MANY MILLIONS OF HUMANS DEPEND ON FOR FOOD), WE WILL SURELY BE NEXT.
FOR A FEW OF MY PAST ARTICLES ON DEATH OF THE PACIFIC, SEE <THIS>
<THIS>, <THIS>, <THIS> AND <THIS>.
WHALE FACTS 1
WHALE FACTS 2
Whales are air-breathing mammals, NOT FISH, so, on average, adult humpbacks surface every 7-15 minutes to breathe but can remain submerged for up to 45 minutes, though a few 1-hour dives have been recorded.
Calves must rise to the surface every 3-5 minutes.
Adult male humpback whales measure 38-42 feet in length and females are slightly larger, measuring 40-45 feet. For comparison, an average school bus is about 45 feet long.
Humpbacks have baleen plates instead of teeth. A baleen whale has a series of 270-400 fringed overlapping plates that hang from each side of the upper jaw. These plates consist of fingernail like material that frays out into fine hairs on the ends. When the whale feeds, it takes in large volumes of water that passes through the baleen plates and strains its food from the water.
Each humpback whale has a unique pattern on its fluke (tail). The underside of the tail fluke can be from all white to all black and is unique to each humpback. In addition to the pattern, the serrated edge of the fluke is also unique to each whale. Through careful study, the fluke pattern can be used to identify individual whales.
Humpback whales are found in most of the world's oceans. Most of them follow a regular migration route, spending their summers in temperate and polar waters for feeding and spending their winters in tropical waters for mating and calving.
The one exception is in the Arabian Sea where a year-round, non-migratory population lives.
Humpback whales were plentiful in oceans worldwide before the global population was depleted by commercial whaling at the start of the 20th century. In 1993 it was estimated that there were 6,000 whales in the North Pacific Ocean, and that 4,000 of those came to Hawaiʻi.
Today, the population of humpback whales that uses Hawaiʻi's waters as their principle wintering ground is likely more than 10,000 animals.
This number is based on a comprehensive research effort that occurred between 2004 and 2006 that estimated the population at approximately 10,000 animals, and the likelihood that the population is still increasing at some unknown rate.
Unique to baleen whales such as the humpback is the presence of two blowholes which are located on top of its head.
Humpback whales have a pretty diverse diet when it comes to the baleen whale suborder and are known for eating small fish, krill, salmon, herring, mackerel and capelin among other small prey.
During the humpbacks feeding season these whales hunt using a technique known as bubble net fishing which involves a group of humpback whales swimming around their prey in a circle and blowing bubbles around their prey in order to herd the fish into a tight ball.
The whales will also create loud vocal sounds to scare the fish to the surface of the water and slap their fins against the water to stun the fish and immobilize them.
Once the fish are unable to move the whales will swim up and lunge at the fish with an open mouth and engulf hundreds or thousands of small fish in a single gulp while using their baleen bristles to separate the water and debris from their prey.
During their migration these whales are known to travel as far as 16,000 miles making them one of the furthest migrating species in the world.
Interestingly male humpbacks in the North Atlantic can be found singing the same song in unison even when they are miles apart from one another while males in the North Pacific can be heard singing a different song.
A single song may last as long as 20 minutes but male humpback whales may be heard singing for more than 24 hours at a time.
When these marine mammals lose a friend/family member, feel lonely or are sad they may produce loud moans or whines, which can be confused for a whale song, however these moans are more akin to morning the loss of a loved one or loneliness rather than singing for mating purposes.
During feeding season these whales are known to make completely different sounds when communicating or searching for food, which further hints at the whale SONG being used for mating purposes only.
Humpback calves can drink as much as 600 litres of milk per day.
In terms of lifespan a healthy humpback whale is believed to have a lifespan of up to 50 years.
A DIFFERENT ESTIMATE OF WORLDWIDE HUMPBACK POPULATION, SHOWING, ONCE AGAIN, THAT THERE IS NO WAY TO DETERMINE THE REAL NUMBERS.
Today there are at least 80,000 humpback whales world-wide, however at one point these marine mammals were considered highly endangered due to excessive hunting and commercial whaling.
It is estimated that as much as 90% of the humpback whales population was eliminated during the whaling era.
FOR MUCH MORE ON WHALE MIGRATION, <SEE THIS WEBSITE>.
you see a dead or stranded whale, please call and report the sighting
to the Marine Mammal Hotline at 888-256-9840. All ocean users,
including swimmers, snorkelers, divers, kayakers, jet skiers, boaters,
windsurfers, or surfers should not approach a humpback whale closer than
100 yards, or 90 meters. Do not chase, closely approach, surround, swim
with, or attempt to touch humpback whales. To report an approach
violation or other incidences of humpback whale disturbance, please call
the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement's 24-hour hotline at