What makes these animals so unique and intriguing to us is that they are one of the largest creatures on earth-the largest blue whale in fact-yet they are completely harmless and eluding predators. The only time you will likely see them is when they are stranded near a coastline or adrift in the open ocean. When this happens, they become a point of interest to scientists who study whales and even people who love to watch them in their natural habitat.
Feeding only occurs primarily in higher latitudes offshore but is also very common during long-distance migrations. In the North Pacific, which includes Alaska, Canada and the Alaskan regions, blue whales typically stop feeding during late summer of each year and then travel north for the winter. During this time, they give birth to their young, which grow into adult whales and take off for their long migration journeys. It takes about six months from the time they leave their parental pod until they reach the open waters of the Arctic Ocean.
During their migration, whales spend most of their time traveling along the surface of the water. They make circular, elongated circles in the water as they move along. These circular trips are about twice as long as the annual migration of a black bear. Because whales spend the majority of their time close to the surface of the water, they tend to stay out of sight of land masses and remain relatively undetected by human divers. Their exact movements are difficult to pinpoint due to their extreme differences in size, especially when compared to other animals of similar size and weight.
Experts believe that whales use sound to communicate with each other and with others in their group. Although this has not been proven conclusively, whales seem to communicate during feeding time by either making or breaking air horns, chirping, flashing eyes or flapping wings. However, it is possible that whales use sonar to detect other ships in the area. These sonar signals are picked up by the ships’ sensitive tracking systems and sent back to the surface ships for observation. The ships then have the information necessary to identify the exact location of the whales.
The whales will travel many miles up to come to the feeding area where they lay eggs. These appear as little balls of blubber which can be seen from the surface of the water. Humpback and blue whales are the only species of mammal to deposit these bony objects. If a humpback whale makes its way into the warm surface waters of the Arctic Ocean, it is possible that other nearby whales follow or even gather to feed on the whale as it feeds.
Whales are fascinating creatures. They show surprising intelligence and potential for self-organization. During their migration, whales perform amazing feats such as leaving the exact same destination each year. In addition, they are known to travel thousands of miles through the oceans. For anyone who has been to watch whales in their natural habitat, the ability to see these massive mammals migrating requires special viewing experiences.
Watching Whales migrating | whales | whale | migrating | surface | water} The journey of whales through the Arctic Ocean and into the warmer surface waters off Alaska is not easy on any boat. Many ships can only make short trips within the area, but whales can travel for weeks without stopping. It takes skill and the right equipment to follow these massive mammals on the ocean floor. It is a fascinating experience to follow the progress of a migrating whale through the water.