Whale species

Choose your whale


FOUR OF OUR TOP SPECIES TO SEE WHILE WHALE WATCHING

Humpback whales

Rae Gill is the tour director of our supplier WhaleSwim Adventures. They take people swimming with humpback whales in Tonga:
"Humpback whales are the most active whales. They jump out of the water - that's known as breaching - they flap their fins, flap their tails. They have to surface to breathe, as all whales do. But they're also baleen whales, which means they don't have any teeth. All baleen whales migrate because they have to go to colder waters to get their food - tiny crustaceans known as krill. So it's usually in the breeding season that the whale watching takes place for humpbacks, because that's when they migrate away from the extreme regions, like Alaska. During the breeding season they stay put for three or four months in warmer waters before making the big swim back to the Arctic or Antarctic for feeding.
Even though they're huge, humpbacks don't eat when they're in Tonga. They eat big mouthfuls of krill, and put on all this blubber in the feeding season, then go off to have babies."
Listen to the humpback whale's call:

Grey whales

Possibly the world's friendliest whale, grey whales are found along the coast of North America where they make the 12,400 round trip between Alaska and Mexico each year.

They calve off the coast of Baja, Mexico, and lucky travelers may get their boat nudged by these 26-ton giants, or even lifted out of the water. They are especially curious towards humans after their calves have been born, and you may see them suckling and playing in the clear water.
In the wild, however, orcas have never been known to attack humans, and in many places you can even kayak alongside these spectacular cetaceans. Despite being known as "killer whales", orcas are actually dolphins.
Listen to the orca's song:

Blue whales

Blue whales are the giants of the planet, yet for something as large as three double-decker buses, they're astonishingly hard to see. Sadly, this is due to them being hunted.
A blue whale can weigh up to 200 tons - with newborn calves weighing up to four. The adults' hearts are the size of a small car. The calf drinks an astonishing 50 gallons of milk each day - an especially impressive feat when you consider that the mothers only feed on tiny crustaceans and fish for up to four months of the year, in the colder polar regions favoured by krill and plankton, before migrating thousands of kilometres towards the tropics to give birth in warmer waters. The calves grow rapidly on the rich milk, to ensure they put on enough blubber to survive back in the colder, iceberg-filled waters.
The BBC has more information and footage of blue whales here.
Photo credits: [Grey whale: Exodus] [Orcas: Meryl Huxham] [Blue whale: National Marine Sanctuaries]
Podcast credits: [Humpback: Mike Koenig] [Orca: nps]
Written by Vicki Brown
Sea of Cortez whale shark research vacation Mexico

Sea of Cortez whale shark research vacation Mexico

Assist with Whale shark research

From US $2275 5 Days ex flights
Isle of Mull wildlife vacation in Scotland

Isle of Mull wildlife vacation in Scotland

Ultimate week of wildlife spotting on the Isle of Mull

From 785 7 Days ex flights
Blue Whale tour in the Azores

Blue Whale tour in the Azores

Blue whale, Fin whale & Sperm whale watching

From 990 7 Days ex flights
Northern Lights and whale watching vacation in Norway

Northern Lights and whale watching vacation in Norway

Look to the sky for the Lights - to the sea for the whales!

From NKr 8900 5 Days ex flights
Sri Lanka wildlife and whales tour

Sri Lanka wildlife and whales tour

Whales and the wildlife of Yala National Park

From US $2275 10 Days ex flights
Whale watching in the Azores

Whale watching in the Azores

Sustainable whale watching in the beautiful Azorean archipelago

From 580 7 Days ex flights
Wildlife vacation in the Isle of Mull, Scotland

Wildlife vacation in the Isle of Mull, Scotland

Spot whales, otters and eagles on Isle of Mull, Scotland

From 625 5 Days ex flights
Wildlife safari and whale watching in South Africa

Wildlife safari and whale watching in South Africa

5 day Whale watching South Africa add to your safari

From 1050 5 Days ex flights
Convert currencies