In the North Tropical waters of The Great Barrier Reef we see 3 types of whales on a regular basis from late July to late September when they are on their annual migration from Antarctic waters to mate and calve in the warmer tropical waters. We encounter the Minke Whales, Brydes Whales and Humpback Whales.
Minke Whales are the smallest of the whales and there are 2 types the Normal and Dwarf. Minke newborns measure 2 meters and with a diet of fish and krill continue growing to a length of up to 8 meters. They are reasonably friendly and curious and are known to swim up to boats, snorkellers and divers and spend considerable periods of time in their company. Generally thought of as solitary mammals they are often encountered in groups of up to 5. Unfortunately they are still hunted during the summer months by Japanese Whalers for "scientific research".
Bryde's Whales (pronounced Broodahs) can be seen almost all year however, they are rarer sightings. They are a warm water species where most whales prefer the colder Arctic waters. Due to their large size they are often mistaken for Humpbacks. They are baleen whales like the Humpback which means they filter their food through a brush like curtain which runs all the way around their mouth instead of teeth.
Humpback Whales are the most popular and probably the most common. Some days we encounter 2 or 3 pairs or individuals while on our trip. It is common to see Humpback whales breeching (leaping into the air and coming down with a tremendous splash). You may also see them slapping their long pectoral fins or playing "eye spy" when their playful curiosity causes them to hold their eye above water to have a good look at you and its surrounds. If you are lucky enough you will see a mother teaching these skills to her calf. It is the only the males who sing their mournful song during mating season. These sounds can be heard through the water up to 50 kms. away.