You've just reached your planned bottom depth of 50'. You signal to your buddy "ok" and you get the "ok" back. You start cruising down the beautiful wall and you hear this unusual sound. You look at your buddy and signal for them to listen too. "There it is again," you think to yourself. It's a long high pitched sound and you know right away... The Whales are Back!
If you have ever dove along the famous St. Croix wall during the mid to later winter months, this story probably sounds familiar. Humpback whales are common visitors to St. Croix during these months as they are making a great migration. These whales live in all five oceans of the world. They spend the summer months in the northern latitudes feeding on krill and small fish to build up their fat deposits to last them through the winter. Then, they embark on the longest migration of any mammal (up to 11,000 miles) to find a mate in the warm tropical waters. Males then sing a complex song that travels up to 20 miles, to attract a female. Males will repeat their songs for hours hoping for their lucky break. If you listen carefully you might be lucky enough to hear one on your next dive!
Interesting Side Note: The songs you hear are unique to each family of whales.
You don't have to be underwater to experience these majestic creatures though. During their migration whales tend to stay near the surface and are a favorite among whale watchers due to their playful behavior. Keep your eyes on the water and you may see a breech or even a slapping behavior with their large fins.
While many humpback whale populations are increasing, a few populations are still endangered. Humpback whales face a myriad of threats; from poachers to boat strikes and fishing nets. To learn more about humpback whales check out:
- Happy Whale Watching