May 19, 2015

Humpback Whales on IMAX

We love watching documentaries and learning wonderful topics such as about animals, and places around the world. We loved learning about the Humpback Whales at the Ontario Science Centre on the giant IMAX screen. By the end of this family friendly 40 minute film we learned lots of information about whales specifically about the Humpback whales.

After watching this film, I can't wait to go whale watching so we can see this enormous and fascinating creatures breaching or leaping from the water in the ocean. It took seven years for this film to be made by MacGillivray Freeman Films. 
I love that this film takes viewers into the mysterious world of one of nature’s most awe-inspiring marine mammals. Set in the spectacular waters of Alaska, Hawaii, and Tonga, this ocean adventure offers audiences an up-close look at how these whales communicate, sing, feed, play, and take care of their young.

We loved the musical mix and the stunning imagery that shows the underwater splendour and scientific exploration of the life of humpback whales. These beautiful legendary creatures have lots of stories to tell with the magnificent sounds and music they make. The unique sounds produced over and over in distinctive patterns by the male humpbacks sometimes are known to last over 20 minutes. Scientists are still researching why they sing. These whales were almost hunted to extinction mostly for oil until humans found oil underground. Since the need for commercial whaling dropped, the humpbacks are in the midst of a slow but a remarkable recovery.

I am glad we got to speak with and ask questions from Dr. Fred Sharpe. He has been investigating the behaviour of humpback whales for more than 25 years. He answered all our questions about one of earth's largest mammals that can reach up to 17 metres about the length of a school bus, and weigh up to 45 metric tons that is about 500 average sized human beings. Their lungs alone is about the size of a compact car.  
Female humpbacks are pregnant for 11 to 12 months before they give birth to a 4.5 meter long, and 1 metric ton weighing single calf every 2 to 3 years. These calves nurse about 100 to 130 pounds of mother's milk per day for 5 to 7 months because the milk has about 40 to 50% fat content that the babies need to develop their healthy layer of blubber. After a year of bonding, the calves fend for themselves. I was curious to know how many calves the female humpback whale can have throughout their life time, and I was fascinated to learn from Dr. Sharpe that they can have about 15 calves during their lifetime even while they age. The female humpbacks are larger than the males in size.

Unfortunately, the humpback whales are targeted by other dangers such as ship collisions, entanglements, climate change effects, pollution in the ocean such as debris and noise, and commercial krill industry. Tons of krill fish and small schooling fish are their main source of food. Humpback whales connect all the world's oceans because their populations migrate between summer feeding grounds in temperate polar waters, and winter mating grounds in tropical waters. We must do our part in helping conserve these humpback whales, and protect our oceans and the life that depends on them.

Watch this film on IMAX at the Ontario Science Centre to learn more about these magnificent Humpback whales.

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