Humpback Whale and Calf

Whale Time

Winter in Hawaii brings a lot of annual visitors to the islands, the biggest of which being the awesome humpback whales. Each year thousands of whales migrate to warm Hawaiian waters from cold northern oceans to mate and give birth.

Here a humpback mother rears her calf just off Maui. It will take a couple of months before the calf is strong enough to make the long journey northward to their winter feeding grounds.

Mother humpbacks stay close to the surface with their calves, helping them come up for critical breathes of air. The calf needs to breathe every 5 to 10 minutes, whereas the mother can go much longer.

While the calf nurses, grows, and learns to swim, the mother eats nothing and does all she can to protect her newborn. She will lose up to half her body weight before she gets back to waters with food for her.

Photographed by Dave Glickman, NOAA

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