Weighing in at 25-40 tons
Babies weigh about 1 ton at birth
They feed on small various types of fish
Only eat 1/2 the year, and survive off fat stores for the rest of the time
They enjoy ocean life, swimming to various locations, depending on temperature
May travel up to 16,000 miles (25,000 Km) in one year
It is suspected there are about 30,000-45,000 in the whole world
They communicate through songs
Black or grey in coloring
They are an endangered species
The scientific name is Megaptera Novaeangliae (I`ll be teaching that to my students, and giving them a quiz on it by the way
. It is probably a necessary vocabulary word)
Lifespan is estimated at 40-80 years
Some of them mate off the coast of the southern part of Okinawa
The gestation period is 12 months
Can you guess what I am talking about yet? Humpback Whales! We didn`t have school on Tuesday because of the vernal equinox. Don`t ask why this is a national holiday, but it is. We had been talking about going whale watching for weeks when we found out that they are around Okinawa from January to March- but we hadn`t gotten around to it. Luckily, Yasmine got the information and gathered us around and we were off to the port at 7:30 on Tuesday! Yas, Elina, Chris, Keri, Keri`s mom, me and the ever wonderful, amusing and almost punctual David set off on a whale watching tour. We left the port a little late- because poor David was lost- but luckily we convinced the captain he was worth the wait. We got out to sea at about 9:30. I wasn`t sure if we would see whales or not. Actually, I didn`t know what type they would be either, but I thought it would be great if we saw some. I didn`t get my hopes up to see one because I had been told by my teachers that we might not see anything. And I was told by other people that we would for sure
. Anyway got on the boat, secured ourselves in life jackets and found the perfect spot to watch. We were up on the top right next to the driver. He was great- he saw the whales blowing water right away- the fact that there were already about four boats in one spot probably gave him a clue, but I am going to imagine this was a grand adventure and it was just his keen eyesight and cunning senses that led him to the whales. So he keeps pointing and we are too far to see, but suddenly in the distance, I see the water squirting into the air. It was magical! Pretty soon we near the other boats, and catch glimpses of the whales swimming along. They go under and we are all so excited to see them. They blow water every once and a while and then all of a sudden one of the whales leaps out of the water- (this is called breaching) It was absolutely amazing! It was huge. The whale was probably 500 or 600 feet away when it did that. For some unknown reason I caught it on video- so check it out. So we are watching the whales and following them in our boat. They go under water for probably about five minutes at a time so we are waiting and staring at the water the whole time wondering where they will appear next and what they will do. After the first jump we were all amazed and excited. It was so much fun to watch the whales. They were swimming in one direction first, and then it seemed the changed a little bit. It was hard to tell if we were upsetting them because there were so many boats around watching them
. At one point there were seven boats. Most of the time the whales were a good distance away from our boat. Probably about 200 yards or so. I don`t know, I`m probably a bad judge of distance. We are watching with our cameras ready, never knowing where they will come up next or when. It had been a while since we saw the whales last and we were all unsure of where they were. Out of no where one of the whales decides to out do his friend- he leaped, jumped, shot , soared into the air right in front of our boat. It was probably less than 100 feet away and truly spectacular. It was exactly the kind of thing you would see on the Discovery Channel. The kind of thing that you never see again. The kind of thing that stuns and shocks your system and changes your perspective of the world, and reminds you how tiny you are and how wonderful life is, and that there is something bigger out there that created this and made that happen. The kind of thing that makes you wish you had a video recorder or camera in your eye instead of in your hand where it has gone into standby mode and it doesn`t wake up fast enough to catch anything except for the big splash where the whale landed.
Alas, the whales didn`t do anything special for the last hour, but it was still really neat to watch them. According to the driver, the day before they only saw one whale and there were no jumps- so I am thoroughly impressed with the performance we got - it was one of the best things I think I have ever seen in nature.
Hope you can watch the videos or at least enjoy the pictures. Sorry the videos are so noisy with the wind!