Mating Season

Seasons for whales can be broken down into two primary seasons: mating season and feeding season.

Every year various species of whale travel several thousand miles to mate and reproduce offspring.

During mating season these whales will travel towards the equator to take advantage of the warmer climates.

Depending on the species of whale mating season can vary, but it typically occurs during the colder fall and winter months where whales can take advantage of the warmer tropical climates, and because food in some locations can become scarce during the winter.

During these long voyages some whales will even forgo eating and will live off of energy stored in their blubber that they gained during their feeding period.

Blue whales for example will travel several thousand miles during mating season and will eat virtually nothing for up to 4 months while they travel.

Humpback whales make one of the longest migration trips of any animal and will travel 5,000 miles or more at an average speed of 1 – 3 mph.

Thousands of humpback whales will travel from both the northern and southern hemisphere during mating season, but rarely run into one another because the seasonal climate changes are different between the northern and southern hemispheres.

Depending on where the whales live also effects when and where they will migrate.

When the whales arrive at their destination they begin courting female whales and will display various shows of physical health and youth by breaching, tail slapping, spy hopping and charging other males.

Some whales will attempt to hoard the female away either alone or in a group with other males in an attempt to retain breeding rights.

Other male whales (such as the humpback) will produce loud melodic tones often referred to as whale songs (because the sounds seem almost musical) which only occur during mating season.

Scientists believe the sounds are used to attract female whales for mating.

When mating season is over the whales migrate back to their feeding grounds towards the northern and southern polar hemispheres where they will eat and restore their energy reserves for the next seasonal migration.

Once the female whale is impregnated it can take anywhere from 9 – 17 months before birth occurs.

The gestation period can vary significantly depending on the species of whale.

Not all species make these migration trips though and some whales will migrate simply to maintain their food supply.

The migration of killer whales for example is largely determined by the migration of fish, squid, seals and other sources of food.

These whales can be found all over their world and are more concerned with their diet than mating location.