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Migration of Humpback Whales

The leadership of the Whaletrack program, aimed at mapping the migrations of Humpback and Killer Whales, is held by the Arctic University of Norway.

As whales journey thousands of miles from their feeding grounds in the Barents Sea in the Arctic to their winter breeding areas in the Caribbean Sea, their movements are meticulously tracked. The map below provides a visual representation of the pathways taken by different tracked whales.

Migration of Humpback Whales

Here is interactive version of the map.

Whale migration

The migration of Humpback Whales is a remarkable natural spectacle that unfolds across vast expanses of ocean, revealing the incredible navigational abilities of these marine giants. Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) are renowned for their long-distance migrations, covering thousands of miles as they travel between feeding and breeding grounds.

The migratory journey typically follows a distinct pattern. During the summer months, Humpback Whales venture to high-latitude, nutrient-rich feeding areas, such as the Barents Sea in the Arctic. Here, they capitalize on the abundance of prey, primarily small fish and krill, to accumulate the necessary energy reserves for the subsequent phases of their life cycle.

As the winter approaches and the availability of food decreases in these colder waters, Humpback Whales embark on their migration to warmer breeding grounds. One of the most well-known migration routes is observed in the North Atlantic population, where individuals traverse significant distances to reach the Caribbean Sea for the breeding season. The tropical waters provide a conducive environment for calving and nursing the newborns.

The migration itself is a complex behavior influenced by a variety of factors, including environmental conditions, reproductive cycles, and the need for suitable feeding and breeding habitats. Humpback Whales are known for their acrobatic displays during migration, breaching and slapping the water's surface with their flippers and tails, possibly as a form of communication or social interaction.

Want to learn more about whales? Then have a look at the following books:

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