Speak about fast migrating whales can make you smile because the size of this animal leaves no room for the idea of speed. But instead ... there are animals that deserve this name, let's get to know them better and understand how they fare in this world that less and less respects the environment, the sea and those who live there. We begin to reveal its scientific name, Megaptera novaeangliae, an animal belonging to the family Balaenopteridae (suborder Balaenopteridae)
Fast migrating whales: dimensions
To imagine them moving in the water, let's start defining their dimensions. They are long animals almost 20 meters, to be precise 17 meters for the male and 14 for the female, with a weight that varies from 34 to 45 tons, when adults. The average lifespan of one of these whales is around 60-70 years, and sexual maturity is therefore reached at around 5 years.
Fast migrating whales: where they live
This mammal lives almost everywhere and we can define it as cosmopolitan as it wallows in all ocean basins from polar waters to tropical waters, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, including the Bering Strait. It is not always everywhere, however, because it follows the rhythm of the seasons. It usually works like this: during spring, summer and autumn they go to the polar seas in search of food, in winter they head to the warmer tropical waters to reproduce.
If a group of humpback whales in the summer stay in the North Atlantic waters generally they migrate to the waters of the West Indies and south-central Africa for the winterif, on the other hand, the group is located in the North Pacific, to reach warm waters in winter it goes between Mexico and Central America. In Mediterranean Sea these whales do not live, as a rule, and if some have been seen, they were most likely passing through, temporary guests.
Fast migrating whales: characteristics
Their body is quite similar to that of its whale cousins, it is of dark color, blue or gray, everywhere, although at times the belly area can be flecked with white or dappled. What makes the humpback whale special and recognizable compared to other whales is the presence of pinniform appearance and a small hump in front of the dorsal fin.
Another particular characteristic of humpback whales concerns their throat which has over a dozen folds in the longitudinal direction and there is a reason why. These folds are used by the whale to be able to expand the throat itself so that it is possible to swallow as much food as possible. Always close to the head there are also small nodules of a few centimeters in diameter covering the lower jaw, each with a gray hair, one sort of feline whisker.
The pectoral fins humpback whales are particularly large, one third of the whole body long, and have an irregular edge, they can be black above and white below, in the Pacific, while only white in the Atlantic. Instead it shows different designs, with a white base, the caudal fin, with serrated edges.
To breathe humpback whale uses two blowholes from which it "sprays" a very powerful water jet, which even reaches 3 meters in height. Also thanks to the blowholes, the whale can stay immersed for up to twenty minutes with its eyes wide open because, being small, they can withstand the great sea pressures. The fast migrating whales they have no teeth but only baleen, a sort of dark horny laminae of about 60 centimeters placed on the sides of the jaws.
Fast migrating whales: feedings
Given its size, such a whale eats a lot, but how much? About a ton of food every day, essential to be able to maintain one fat mass enough to face the fasting she is forced to in winter.
The food consists of other fish that the fast migrating whales hunt alone or in groups, aiming at schools of small fish and krill.
There are different hunting techniques, it depends on the situations and the size of the school. There foam technique consists of creating foam, swimming on the surface in a circle and hitting the water with their fins, to scare the fish and make them go to the surface. There the whales can swallow them very easily.
Another one interesting technique is that of bubbles. In this case the whales produce bubbles, rising from the bottom of the sea to the surface in a spiral movement, surrounding the fish and scaring them. Also in this case the aim is to make them rise to the surface and then swallow them. If the school of fish is already abundant and on the surface, the whale has a clear path. It approaches from below by ingesting water and fish.
Fast migrating whales: behavior
This whale lives in small groups which migrate in winter moving from the pole to tropical waters to mate and reproduce. It is certainly a social animal which, however, in some moments can also prove aggressive, for example when another whale alien to its group approaches.
To communicate with their companions the humpback whale it uses many sounds including gurgling, screeching, moaning, but also the language that we would call "non-verbal", that is, jumps out of the water, dives, splashes.
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