Whale watching is a type of eco-tourism. All over the world, entire expeditions are organized to admire these amazing animals, to learn more about their way of life, and to take unique memorable photographs.
What are the whales interesting about
Many people think that whales are fish. This is not true. Cetaceans are mammals that give birth to cubs and feed them with milk.
Whales have evolved from land to water and have fully adapted to live in water. They have undergone a huge number of different changes in their bodies. For example, they completely lost their hind limbs, which prevented them from swimming and created unnecessary turbulence. The whales’ noses have migrated to the vertex – this allows them to breathe and keep their snout underwater at the same time in order to hunt. The fountain that the whale releases as it rises to the surface is actually an exhalation of air.
Most species are gregarious animals, living in families or in groups of several hundred to thousands. Cetaceans migrate within familiar territories, sticking to specific routes and times.
Unfortunately, in the recent past, almost all body parts of whales were used by humans to produce food and technical products. Because of this, many species are on the verge of extinction. Currently there is a moratorium on the commercial catch of cetaceans, but in some countries fishing is available on a limited basis.
There is a scientific belief that whales have a language of their own. Bioacoustics and linguistics studies whale signals at the level of sound amplitudes and frequencies. They can communicate with each other at both short and long distances.
10 surprising facts about whales
- Because of their thick layer of fat under their skin, whales can swim in icy water.
- Whales can go without eating for about 10 months and without sleeping for more than 100 days.
- Blue whales are the largest animals that have ever lived on the planet. An adult blue whale can be up to 33 meters long and weigh more than 150 tons.
- Whales pump more than nearly 10,000 liters of blood, and the diameter of their vessels is comparable to the diameter of a bucket.
- Whales can hold their breath for hours.
- Whales have no ears; the organ of hearing is the lower jaw.
- Some species of whales can live more than 100 years.
- Whales and humans are the only mammals that “sing songs”. White whales make the most melodious sounds.
- Before whaling was banned, whale blubber and whale fat were used to produce margarine, theater makeup, lubricants, soap, laundry detergent, glycerin, and other substances
- Ambergris, a substance that is formed in the intestines of sperm whales, is valued in the perfume industry as a perfume fixative.
When can you see whales in Russia?
Whales most often pass near the coast in the summertime. They come to the shores of the seas and oceans to feed, breed, or raise their young. Between July and September, you’re guaranteed to see whales and may even be able to get close to them. They usually stay together with their families or in groups of several families.
Where you can see whales in Russia
- Shantar Islands;
- Kuril Islands;
- Solovetsky Islands, White Sea;
- Commander Islands;
- Franz Josef Land.
Countries where you can still see whales
Here you can see the humpback and gray whales. They live in Cabo San Lucas Puerto Vayarta and Southern Baja California. San Lucas has whale lagoons and Banderas Bay. On the coast of Mexico you can even see families with calves.
The town of Husavik is the whale capital of Iceland. There are many suggestions for those who want to go out to sea and see whales. And Reykjavik is home to the world’s only whale museum. Unfortunately, today it is allowed to catch whales in Iceland, even though it is against international agreements.
Whales can be found all year round in Norway. They are especially abundant near the Lofoten Islands. Lofoten Islands also attract killer whales – you can see them from October to January, when the sea is full of herring. Unfortunately, it is not very comfortable to watch the amazing animals on the islands – they are located above the Arctic Circle, and therefore it is quite cold.
Almost the entire coast of South Africa is suitable for whale watching from June to November. But the coastline near the town of Hermanus stands out. This city is considered the whale capital of the world. Whales come to this place to give birth and stay here until the calves grow up. Each year, Hermanus hosts the Whale Festival from September 30 to October 4. Animals are watched directly from the shore, where there are benches and stands set up specifically for this purpose.
Spain (Bay of Biscay)
The Bay of Biscay off the coast of Spain is a great place in mainland Europe to see whales. There are especially many of them off the islands of La Gomera and Tenerife in May and summer.
New Zealand (Kaikoura)
In New Zealand, off the coast of the South Island whales can be seen all year round. The most popular place is Kahikaura. Cold and warm currents converge here, which creates favorable conditions for whales because of the rich vegetation of the underwater world.
In the Gulf of California you can see whales at any time of the year. Especially a lot of them in the area of the Baja Peninsula. There are gray whales in the Gulf, which are the most friendly and curious when meeting with humans. If you are lucky, you can even touch these creatures with an outstretched hand from the boat.