(ORDO NEWS) — It turned out that humpback whales can be much more mobile during the breeding season than previously thought. Some of them are ready to overcome up to 6,000 kilometers in search of their soul mate!
Oh, what won’t you do for love! 6,000 kilometers for whales is nonsense!
Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) live in all oceans. In the North Pacific, they typically spend their summers feeding off the coasts of Alaska and Canada, and migrate south to the waters of Mexico and Hawaii in the winter to breed.
Historically, scientists have assumed that whales choose either Mexico or Hawaii as their breeding grounds. However, some songs of whales indicate that not everything is so simple and unambiguous.
James Darling of the Whale Trust Maui in Hawaii and colleagues studied a database of photographs of more than 26,000 individual humpback whales in the North Pacific taken by professionals and amateurs since 1977.
Individual whales are very easy to identify from photos, as they have distinct pigment spots on their skin. Using computer processing, the researchers identified two individuals that were photographed in both Hawaii and Mexico during the same winter breeding seasons.
One male covered 4,545 kilometers in 53 days, leaving his “Hawaiian” group to join a group of three right whales off the Mexican islands in 2006.
Another whale covered 5944 kilometers from the city of Zihuatanejo in Mexico to the waters in the Hawaiian Auau channel off the island of Maui. He did it in 49 days in the winter of 2018. All this time he was chasing a lonely female.
Scientists believe that although these distances seem huge, for whales they are probably like walking in the backyard of a house. The authors of the work also noted that females are also able to overcome such distances if they want to!
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