A Whale of Time for our Humpbacks!

It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve seen a Humpback breach, you still can’t help but to stop in awe of these enormous, majestic and mystical creatures! With adults measuring 12-16 meters in length and weighing in at a whopping 30,000kg there is still something so streamline and weightless about the way they move through the ocean.

Adult Humpback breaching

Amazing breaching humpback in Geographe Bay. Photo credit: the_mermaid_viking

Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) have a life expectancy of at least 48 years, with sexual maturity being reached between four and eight years (average five years). These whales have a gestation of 11-12 months and once their calves are born, they breast feed for a further 10-12 months. Calves become independent between one and five years after birth (sometimes even longer), with a two and a half year average calving interval. This just highlights the immense commitment from these mothers to raise their young.

Baby and mother Humpback whales

Mother and baby Humpback in Geographe Bay. Photo credit: the_mermaid_viking

At the moment hikers on the Cape to Cape Track are experiencing the peak period of migration for population 8 (Group D) of the 15 populations of Humpback’s from around the world. Although this populations was hunted to the brink of extinction throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s, they are steadily recovering at a rate of approximately 11% per year with current estimates placing population 8 as the largest aggregation of Humpbacks in the world nearing 50,000 individuals.

Tail slapping Humpback

A big tail slap by an adult Humpback. Photo credit: the_mermaid_viking

Every year, these enchanting creatures take the incredible journey from their feeding grounds in the nutrient rich waters of Antarctica between (70° E and 130° E) all the way up to their breeding area in Australia’s north-west – as far as Camden Sound. The congregation leaves Antarctica around May in an orderly fashion dependent on sex and reproductive status. On their journey to their breeding grounds, lactating females with their yearlings head out first, followed by immature males and females with mature males, resting females and pregnant females making up the tail end charlie aggregation. On their journey south, mixed females, immature males and females leave first, followed by mature males and finally females with calves in early lactation follow.

Surfacing Humpback in Geographe Bay

Surfacing Humpback. Photo credit: the_mermaid_viking

The whales travel an incredible 9,000kms on their return journey and unbelievably they very rarely feed throughout the entire migration. They tend to stay within 20kms of the coast in waters of depths up to 200m. On their way back to their feeding ground in Antarctica, they hitch a ride in the Leeuwin Current – boosting their speed to approximately 10km/h which would be a massive help for a lactating mother on an empty stomach. The whales stop for a rest at four different locations on their journey, including Augusta, Geographe Bay, Shark Bay and the southern Kimberley region. We are very lucky to have the whales spending a little extra time on either side of the Cape and if you are in the area during the migration, we definitely recommend taking a charter to get up, close and personal with these gentle giants!

Migration of Humpbacks

Distribution of the 2 migrating populations of the Humpback Whale’s in Australia.

 

Warburton’s Wonder World hits the Cape to Cape

After travelling the Southern Hemisphere for several months, Jim and Lesley Warburton took a break from the trains and boats and decided to tackle Cape to Cape Explorer Tours 8 Day Self Guided Catered Comforts hike. Reining from England where they had previously completed a hike of 135 miles, they saw the 135km distance of the Cape to Cape Track as a sign not to be ignored.

Interestingly, the Warburton’s selected late January, the hottest time of the year to tackle the track and they had an absolute blast! ‘I think the art really is making very early starts’ Jim said, ‘You get the nice clear skies and you see more wildlife’. Lesley’s highlights were also seeing so much wildlife, including a New Zealand Fur Seal on the beach (pictured below).

New Zealand Fur Seal resting on the beach near Joey's Nose

As a Botanist, Lesley was also delighted by the amount of wildflowers they spotted along the walk considering the time of year; ‘There’s such bright ones, beautiful reds and purples and whites and yellows’ Lesley said. Jim also loved the wildness of the last day, along with the incredible geology of the limestone and granite.

Managing Director Gene Hardy with Lesley and Jim Warburton at Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse

The Warburton’s also shared that they were now going to head to Nepal, somewhere very close to their hearts. ‘Seven or eight years ago we made a commitment to build a school in a village there (Nepal)’ Lesley said, ‘we just saw the lack of opportunity for the kids, only 60% of kids go to school in Nepal’. After a long process, the school has now been up and running for several years with a syllabus similar to what you would see in Australia. The school is equipped with class sizes of 25, 10 classrooms and 10 teachers and is currently offering 150 children the opportunity to come and learn without having to walk for over 90 minutes each way.

Children reading at the school the Warburton's built in Nepal

The Warburton’s described that one of their main challenges was actually getting the kids to school. One of their incentives to parents have been providing every child with a school uniform, because the parents often can’t give their children new clothes, so the thought of their children getting new clothing mean that they have a greater reason to send them to school. The Warburton’s are already in Nepal and have kindly sent us a couple of photos of the children at their school. We look forward to hearing the progress of their students in their future!

Children playing at the Warburton's school in Nepal

Interested in hiking the Cape to Cape Track but can’t make it in either Spring or Autumn? No worries! We offer our self-guided walks all year round and as you can see, there’s always a new experience to be had. Click here to check out our 8 Day Self Guided Catered Comforts package to start your experience today!