Fin Facts I Found on Porpoise

Rolling into Tofino in March, means bearing witness to a type of awakening. Store windows come alive with colourful underwater scenes, posters for talks by world-renowned naturalists plaster the community boards, and your family may have accidentally joined the main street parade in the minivan. 

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You’ve arrived just in time for our cetacean celebration, welcoming the return of our giant, globetrotting friends, the whales. With baleen on the brain, we decided to do some research. Here are some of our favourite facts about these magnificent mammals:

  • The migration of a gray whale is the longest known of any mammal (10-12,000 miles/year).
  • Gray whales can be found year-round around Vancouver Island.
  • Humpback whales can travel up to 5 mph.
  • Newborn calves are born without a protective blubber layer under their skin and would quickly freeze to death, hence traveling to warmer climates for birthing.
  • Humpbacks have a wide geographic range and are found in all the world’s oceans.
  • Killer whales have one of the longest known gestation periods, being 15-18 months!
  • Unlike humans, whales must consciously breathe, meaning whales never go to sleep, but instead “nap” with one half of their brain remaining active.
  • In the 1700 and 1800’s, whalers in search of oil, meat, and baleen hunted gray whales near to extinction. Careful management and legislation has allowed the population to recover.
  • Gray whales turn to the right side when bottom feeding, resulting in asymmetrical baleen plates.
  • By forcing air through their blowholes, a male humpback song can last 10-20 minutes, which they can repeat for hours at a time (over 24 hours).
  • Humpback whales within a large area sing a single song that differs from other geographical groups. Each population’s song changes slowly over a period of years without repeating.
  • The knobs on the head and jaw of a humpback whale are actually hair follicles.
  • Humpbacks are a social species that interact with other cetacean species. They have been known to protect and perform mating behaviors with their friends.

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Check out the calendar of events for the Annual Pacific Rim Whale Festival


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