Humpback whales are known for their long migrations, covering thousands of miles between their breeding and feeding grounds.
Costa Rica is a popular destination for humpback whales during their annual migrations, as the country offers warm waters, and protected areas for mating and calving. The humpback whale populations that visit Costa Rica typically migrate twice a year: during the breeding season. Humpback whales breed during the winter months in their high latitude feeding grounds. In the North Pacific, this is typically in Alaska, while in the Southern Hemisphere, the whales breed in waters around Antarctica. After breeding, pregnant females and males who have not successfully mated begin their migration to warmer waters to give birth and nurse their calves. In the case of the North Pacific population of humpback whales, they migrate approximately 3,000 miles from their feeding grounds in Alaska to the warm, protected waters of Costa Rica.
The migration begins in late December or early January and lasts until March or April. Female humpback whales are typically pregnant for 11-12 months, and their calves are born in the warm waters off the coast of Costa Rica. The Costa Rican waters offer the perfect environment for the humpback whales to give birth and nurse their young. The warm waters protect the calves from the cold temperatures of the northern feeding grounds, and the shallow waters provide a safe space for the calves to learn and develop their swimming skills.
The humpback whale calves are born weighing between 1 and 2 tons, and they drink up to 150 gallons of milk per day from their mothers.