Young humpback whale giving its mother a hug off the coast of Tonga
A whale of a hug
At around this time of year, humpback whales are making their annual trip to the warm waters of the South Pacific to mate. Today's image finds us swimming alongside a humpback mother and her calf near the Polynesian island chain of Tonga. The humpbacks return each year from their feeding grounds off Antarctica, a journey of more than 4,000 miles.
Until November, the cows will stay in this region while their newborn calves grow strong enough to make the trek back to the cold Antarctic waters where their main food source, the small crustacean called krill, is abundant. Humpbacks are found in every ocean. They’re known for their magical songs which, like the humpback itself, can travel great distances through the water. Scientists are still studying these sounds to find out what they mean. Are they singing to communicate with others and attract potential mates? Or is it simply a way to pass the time on that 4,000-mile ocean journey?