Brisbane is recognised as Australia’s premier whale watching destination, offering a sheltered heaven for whales to rest, play and bond; but did you know that whales were once land dwellers?
Whales lived on land over 50 million years ago and actually had four legs! They evolved into sea dwellers over time, transforming from being a walking land dweller similar to a hippopotamus that hunted for food by the shore, to a creature resembling a sea lion, and eventually into the form we see today. There is still evidence of their hind limbs in modern day whale skeletons.
These days the Humpback Whale is famous for their amazing pectoral fins or flippers that feature in the origin of the Humpback’s genus name – Megaptera. This stems from the Greek word ‘megas’ wing which literally means ‘big wings’.
These pectoral fins are one third of the length of the body however the common name ‘Humpback’ originated from the distinctive way in which the Humpback arches its back. The back of the whale bends into the classic hump posture as the whale surfaces giving all guest on board Eye Spy a spectacular acrobatic ‘round out’ dive.
Of all the great whales, the Humpback is the most inquisitive and playful, often leaping clear of the ocean or slapping the surface with their great fins and tail flukes in awesome displays of grace and power.
The Humpback Whale is the fifth largest of all the great whales, reaching a length of 17 meters and weighing in at massive 45 tonnes when fully mature. The females are larger than the males and their life span can be between 40 and 95 years!
After spending over 18 years conducting whale watching tours in Moreton Bay, I still to this day find myself mesmerised by the beautiful sight and behaviours of the mighty Humpback Whale. Seeing them breach and play is something that never ceases to amazing me as they teach me something new every tour.
Captain Kerry Lopez
Brisbane Whale Watching
Do you have a question about whales? Leave a message for Captain Kerry in the comments below!