The Never Ending Journey | Previous Page | Index | Next Page |

16     Birthing


The sheltered warm waters of The Great Barrier Reef provide the ideal conditions for female humpbacks to give birth to their young.

Females are capable of having a calf every two years and pregnancy lasts for over eleven months.

Young humpback calves are born with their eyes open and with good hearing. A newly born young calf has to be brought to the surface to breath because the stimulus for opening its blowhole is air and without air in its lungs, the calf would tend to sink.

At birth the calf weighs approximately 680 kgs and is just over 4m in length.

ABOVE : At birth calves have a coating of fine hair-like down which shines silvery or golden in the sun. Its usually replaced by the normal black and white pigmentation within a week. As in the case of 'Silky' - photographed in 1996 - together with size, the presence of the down allows us to judge that the calf is only a few days old. We saw 'Silky' again in early 1997 as a Yearling.

It seems calves are also born during the northward migration. Newly born calves have been sighted and filmed traveling north past Coffs Harbour and we have seen a calf a few days old passing close to Cape Byron.

(Photo: Trish Franklin)

| Previous Page | Index | Next Page |

| Homepage | SoundNet | Expedition | Youth | Whales | Shop | Membership | Links | Help | Overview |