Imagine being on a whale watching tour, and the excitement of suddenly sighting a whale or two. Cameras click away… and if you are lucky, you just might catch a whale breaching as well!
Humpback whales are majestic animals known for their long fins and uneven head. These whales are said to typically travel alone or in very small groups of three to four. Scientists would call a group of 10-20 as large.
But, recently, a gathering of 200 whales off the coast of South Africa, have left scientists stumped for an explanation.
According to scientists, there are two possible theories for this strange behavior.
The first is that the gathering is mainly for survival purposes. Humpback whales breed in tropical waters but typically feed in the icy waters of Antarctica at this time of the year. According to Ken Findlay, a marine biologist, it is possible that the humpbacks simply stayed in the southern waters instead of migrating because there might be more prey. It is also possible that their migratory patterns are changing
Another theory is that whales were never solitary creatures – and perhaps we just assumed they were. In the past, whale numbers had declined as they were hunted for their meat and blubber. Ever since whaling was banned and they were put on the endangered list, the species has recovered remarkably. From a mere 2,000, now 60,000, humpback whales roam free. That may be one reason we are observing behaviors we have not seen previously.
Whatever the reason, it is certainly an amazing sight to see so many whales frolicking in the waters!