Whale Migration, Why do they Migrate?

Humpback whales travel over 10,000 kilometres on their yearly migration from their feeding grounds of the cold Antarctic waters to the warm tropical breeding grounds in sunny Queensland. This is the longest migration journey of any animal in history. But why do they make this extremely long and arduous journey each year?

It's all about the food

Part of the whale migration story is the same reason that we jump in our car and drive long distances to pick up our favourite take away or dine at our favourite restaurant. It's about the food.

Being so big, whales love food; in fact they're constantly eating and it's one of their main occupations. The all time favourite food of a Humpback whale is krill. Krill are small prawn like creatures that grow up to 4cm in length. They're found in oceans throughout the world but the krill-fest in Antarctic waters during the Antarctic summer is simply irresistible to Humpback whales, who can eat up to 1800 kilograms of krill per day.

Millions and billions of krill gather together in vast schools several hundred metres across and 50-60 metres deep. They cluster together to feed on the micro plankton or microscopic ocean grass that is found in abundance in Antarctic waters. These massive schools of krill are the reason that humpback whales travel to the Antarctic. But why do they leave this all you can eat krill smorgasbord to travel all the way back to warm Australian waters?

Motherly love

Whales don't just have big stomachs and appetites, they also have big hearts. Humpback whales leave their feeding grounds to migrate back to the warmer waters off the east coast of Australia to mate and give birth in the subtropical waters of the Great Barrier Reef. Baby humpback whales, called calves, don't have enough body fat when they're born to be able to survive in the cold Antarctic waters.

Once spring arrives in Australia, Humpback whales and their calves begin the long migration journey back to the krill rich feeding grounds of the Antarctic.

Become a part of a Humpback whale's epic journey

Now you know why Humpback whales migrate 10 000 km every year between Australia and the Antarctic, why not join in and be a witness to this amazing journey? Join Captain Kerry on a whale watching cruise and experience a tiny part of an awe inspiring migration. Humpback whales migrate from the Antarctic to Australia between May and July with their return migration from September to November.

Whale watching cruises in Brisbane depart daily from the Redcliffe jetty, June to November. While you might not have an appetite as large a Humpback whale, you can still enjoy a gourmet lunch as you watch the whales frolic, breach, blow, roll and play on their migration journey.

For more information about becoming a part of whale migration history, contact Brisbane Whale Watching today.

Kerry Lopez

Captain of the Eye Spy
04 August 2015