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© ReadyEdPubl i cat i ons •f orr evi ew pur posesonl y•

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About Ready-Ed Publications Ready-Ed Publications was established in 1984 with the purpose of creating practical classroom blackline master activities. At the time, the role of the teacher was becoming ever more diverse with an increasing range of duties and responsibilities within the school and school community. Since then, the role of the teacher has continued to evolve with an escalating range of tasks and obligations, ensuring a reduction in time available to prepare work for the daily instructional program.

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Throughout these past 24 years, Ready-Ed Publications has built a reputation as publishers of Australian made, high quality, innovative, timesaving materials for teachers of primary and lower secondary levels. In addition, all materials are based on state or national curriculum guidelines or specific age-related interest areas and subjects.

The Humpback Whale © 2008 Ready-Ed Publications Printed in Australia Author: Margaret Etherton Illustrator: Terry Allen Typesetting and Cover Design: Shay Howard

© ReadyEdPubl i cat i ons •f orr evi ew pur posesonl y•

Acknowledgements: i.

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Ready-Ed Publications aims to assist busy professionals by making available contemporary classroom materials that contain relevant and stimulating work to support the requirements of the curriculum.

Clip art images have been obtained from Microsoft Design Gallery Live and are used under the terms of the End User License Agreement for Microsoft Word 2000. Please refer to www.microsoft.com/permission.

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ii. I-stock Photos: as shown adjacent to images.

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Published by: Ready-Ed Publications PO Box 276 Greenwood WA 6023 www.readyed.com.au info@readyed.com.au

ISBN: 978 1 86397 751 7 COPYRIGHT NOTICE All rights reserved. The reproduction of any part of this book for an entire school or school system or for commercial use is strictly prohibited. No form of this work may be reproduced, transmitted or recorded without written permission from the publisher. Requests for such permissions should be addressed to Ready-Ed Publications.

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The humpback – a very special mammal

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Giants of the Animal World 7

Look mum – no teeth! Catching dinner with nets made of bubbles Food chains No friends of the whale

7 © ReadyEd P ubl i cat i ons 9 Whale Acrobatics •f orr evi ew pur posesonl y• Whale Shanties 10 11

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Habitats of the Humpback 12 A Watery World When one habitat is not enough - migration Antarctica Reef lagoons of the Great Barrier Reef

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Baby Humpbacks Whaling

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Looking at the humpback Mega-sized mammals What do humpback whales need to survive? How do whales breathe?

History of whaling

o c Future of the . Humpback che e r o t r s Asked Questions su Frequently r e 17 p Getting Stranded

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18 18 19

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r o e t s Bo r e p ok u Mealtime Mammals Galore 4 S What’s for dinner? What are mammals? 4

19 20 21

22 24 26 28 28 30 32

35 Glossary of Whale Words 37 Further Sources of Information 39 Websites 40

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r o e t s Bo r These are all mammals: e p ok u Mammals are animals S which live on land and in the water. A whale is a mammal just like you are. Here are some of the special characteristics scientists use to decide if an animal is a mammal or not: • A bony skeleton • Warm-blooded • Long fur covering most of its body • Lungs to breathe with But these animals are not: • A large brain able to learn many things • Babies are born fully formed, not hatched from an egg • Babies drink milk made inside the mother’s body • One or both parents look after the young • Four limbs – arms and legs Not all mammals have every characteristic.

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What are mammals?

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Water based mammals, such as whales, don’t have gills like fish so they have to come to the surface of the water to take breaths of air.

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Wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Humpback_Whale_underwater_shot.jpg, Public domain.

The brain of a humpback whale is large compared to other animals. In fact, scientists have discovered some of the cells inside a humpback’s brain are similar to those in a human’s!

© ReadyEdPubl i cat i ons Whales • have two blowholes tow takep f o r r evi e ur posesonl y•

Whales don’t have scales like fish. Their skin is smooth like rubber. They don’t have fur covering most of their bodies, either. They only have a few hairs like whiskers poking out of the lumps on their backs, so they are different from many other mammals. Humans are a bit different too. They have fine hair – not fur – over their bodies and only grow long hair on their heads!

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Warm blooded animals are able to maintain their internal temperature to keep themselves warm on cold days and cool on hot ones. They do not depend on the temperature of the environment. This takes energy and they have to get this energy by eating lots of food.

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in air and blow it out again – just like a human’s nostrils. One difference is that their blowholes are on top of their heads!

o c . che e r o t r s super One of the Whale Fact

closest living relatives to a whale is a cow.

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Walsh om/Dale photo.c © iStock

© ReadyE dPubl i cat i ons The humpback au very special mammal •f orr evi ew–p r po seso nl y•

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Today thousands of humpback whales exist across the seven seas. They are such big animals, yet not many people have seen them. Someone saw the humpback whale leaping out of the water, with its back curved, and gave it the name ‘humpback’. This name is still their common name but marine biologists call them Megaptera novaengliae. This means ‘big whale with wings’. Some people even call them ‘the humans of the sea’! Can you guess why?

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© ReadyEdPubl i cat i ons •f orr evi ew p ur posesonl y• Looking at the humpback

© Simon Elwen / WCS

Image courtesy of NOAA

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© iStockphoto.com/Vicki Beaver

Have a look at the magnificent humpback whale! It’s big all right.

• It looks as if it has two wings but they are really flippers with scalloped edges called pectoral fins.

o c . che e r o t • It has a smaller fin on its back, close r s sup r e to the tail, called the dorsal fin.

• Its head is squished flat, with two small eyes, one either side of its wide head near the end of its mouth.

• Its neck has folds, like the pleats of a skirt, which reach down to its belly button. These folds expand out when the whale fills its mouth with water to catch its seafood dinner.

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© ReadyEdPubl i cat i ons • Its tail, called a fluke, is •f or vi ew pur posesonl y• big too and hasr ae © iStockphoto.com/Greg Brzezinski

© iStockphoto.com/Estelle Hood

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• On its back you can see some funny lumps which have whiskers growing on them, which act as a type of sensor.

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scalloped edge.

o c . che e r o t A humpback’s handy flippers are r s s r u e p similar to human arms and hands with • Under their skin whales • Some of the bumps on its body have barnacles – a type of shellfish – stuck on them. have blubber to help to keep them warm in the icy water.

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lots of bones. It can use these pectoral fins to wave about and slap the water. They are so useful a mother can almost hug her calf with her fins!


Wikipedia, public domain

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r o e t s Bo r e p ok Mega-sized mammals u S Look at these measurements comparing humpback whales with humans:

Why are humpback whales so Length Weight © Re a d y E d P ubl i cat i ons enormous? (metres) (kilograms) f orr e vi e w pur po se so nl y• Here are some of the reasons Male • Whale 11.6 20,000 1.7

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Female Whale 12.1 Female Human 1.6

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Baby Whale Baby Human

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whales grow so big:

• Water supports their great weight so they don’t need legs and muscles to hold them up.

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Male Human

• They can store more fat. 5 .50

2,000 3.3

• A bulky body loses less heat than a smaller one.

o c . • They eat from the bottom of c e Did you notice that theh female r the food chain which gives e o t r s s r more energy to grow big. whale is heavier and longer than u pethem the male whale?

A baby whale is more than 600 times heavier than you were when you were newborn. It’s ten times longer too!

Whale Fact

Blue whales are bigger than the dinosaurs.

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What do humpback whales need to survive? All animals (including you!) need food, water and somewhere safe to live. They must have oxygen in the air to breathe. For food, humpback whales need: • krill, small fish and plankton to eat. • sunshine (see Food Chains, Page 20).

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r o e t s Bo r e p ok u Humpbacks don’t need to drink their water like you but S they have to live in it. They need: • quiet seas without too much noise. • clean water free from plastic, chemicals and other pollution. • correct water temperature.

© ReadyEdPubl i cat i ons •f orr evi ew pur posesonl y•

For a safe place to live they need: • a secure place to have babies. • a habitat where predators can’t attack them.

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Here are some more things whales need to survive in their watery world: • ocean currents during migration to help them get to the safe lagoons.

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Whales need plenty of sunshine to survive.

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Image courtesy Microsoft Design Gallery

• family to teach and guide them until they mature. A whale baby needs support just like you do. If left alone it will die. • a clear passage for their migration paths. These are like whale superhighways! They need to be free from the traffic of large ships or they might have a collision.


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© iStockphoto.com/Greg Brzezinski

© ReadyEdPubl i cat i ons How do whales breathe? •f orr evi ew pur posesonl y• Whales take a breath of air at the

© Simon Elwen / WCS

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water surface, then glide or dive underwater for 10 to 15 minutes, but sometimes for longer intervals of up to 30 minutes. They breathe in through two blowhole passages. These are similar to nostrils, just like you have! When they breathe out they send a blast of air, some water and some oil shooting into the sky. This spray Most of the time humpbacks swim or ‘blow’ travels faster than a speeding bullet – an incredible close to the surface when they are 450 kilometres an hour. In less migrating, but marine biologists now than two seconds they breathe know they sometimes cruise along deep underwater as well. in and fill their lungs again.

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r o e t humpbacks are migrating they hug s B r e o the coast. Other humpbacks cross p o Humpback whales live in every u great oceans to visitk New Zealand or major ocean in theS world. the Cook Islands. They are also found in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. In the northern hemisphere there are four separate populations and in the southern hemisphere there are seven. Because whales migrate they have many habitats, which range from icy to tropical waters. They spend their time playing at the surface or swimming along just below. Sometimes they dive and travel in deep waters, at other times they live in shallow waters.

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A watery world

Humpback whales in the northern hemisphere do everything in the opposite direction to the ones around Australia. They live in the Arctic Circle to feed and migrate south towards the equator to breed.

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© ReadyEdPubl i cat i ons Humpback Migratory Patterns •f orr evi ew pur poses onl y •

. te o East Australian humpback c . ch e whales spend part of their life r e o t r s super down south in Antarctica and migrate north to the Great Barrier Reef when the water gets too cold. Another group of humpback whales migrate up the west coast of Australia. When east Australian 12

Humpback whales Breeding grounds Feeding grounds


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The whales journey alone, or in small pods, up the east coast of Australia for 5000 kilometres to the Great Barrier Reef, where they meet up with the rest of the pod in July. They travel at fairly slow speeds, sometimes carried along by the ocean currents.

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headlands in between. Sometimes they have a stopover or enter a sheltered bay to rest away from the choppy ocean.

© iStockphoto.com/Craig Wright

After mating and breeding they journey back down the coast in September and arrive in Antarctica in about November. They travel alone or in pairs when they are migrating, but meet up into groups of between 20 and 200 for mating and for feeding. Some whales stay behind in Antarctica if they are not breeding, or are too young to look for mates.

When one habitat is not enough © - migration ReadyEdPubl i cat i ons

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•f orr evi ew pur posesonl y•

During summer east Australian humpbacks spend six months eating krill in the icy cold waters around Antarctica. Then, at the end of May they head north along the east coast of Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. They stay closer to shore than some other whale species. Along the way they can be seen from coastal lookouts at Bicheno and Great Oyster Bay in Tasmania; Eden, Narooma, Jervis Bay, Nelson Bay, Crowdy Head, Coffs Harbour, and Byron Bay in New South Wales; Stradbroke Island, Fraser Island and the Whitsundays in Queensland, as well as from many

o c . che e r o t r s super Whale Fact

Males are known to guide females and calves during their first year of life.

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Antarctica

How do you think whales are able to migrate nearly every year for their whole lives?

r o e t s Bohave some type of r e • Whales may p oto help them magnetic sensorsk u detect the weak positive magnetic S pull of the North Pole. This would

Why do humpback whales migrate? One of the reasons whales migrate is they have too much fat on them while baby whales have too little. In the winter the babies would be too cold in Antarctica so the whales travel to the warmer waters during the coldest time of the year, to help the babies to survive. The parents have too much fat to survive in the north during the summer as they would get too hot. So they have to return to Antarctica where they feed.

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Marine biologists are not sure how they navigate, but some of the theories scientists suggest are:

be like an inbuilt compass which helps them to navigate.

• They could use sonar to send out signals, or infrasound, which bounce off objects and come back to their ears.

© ReadyEd•P ubl i ca t i o nsense s of Perhaps they use their sight to recall the landscape, like •f orr evi ew pur pos esonl y• humans do.

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• Maybe they just follow the stars!

Marine Biology

. te o Whale superhighways c . ch Humpback whales travel along the e r er o same route every year. Somehow How would you like to be a t s s r u e p they manage to find the same place marine biologist who proves off the coast of Queensland. They set out at the right time and arrive at the right time. It’s interesting that the young calves learn to find their way after only one year of travelling with their mothers and escorts. 14

one of these theories is the way humpback whales navigate? You will have to study very hard and learn all you can about animals and the planet.


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Antarctica is a vast expanse of ice and snow with no vegetation and no water as a liquid, only as ice. It is a continent of many contrasts because it is:

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r o e t s Bo r e p ok u Antarctica S

How can Antarctica be one of the driest and the wettest places in the world at the same time?

Over 98% of Antarctica is © ReadyEdPu bl i cat i ons covered with ice. That makes it the wettest place. But it• has •f oron r e vi e wyetp r p o s e s o n l y • The driest place earth and it u almost no rainfall, with less is the wettest place on earth.

• The windiest and the iciest place on earth.

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• Surrounded by water and yet it has no humidity.

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Antarctica is the highest continent on earth and the higher you are above sea level, the colder it gets. In winter the temperatures range from -40 to -70 degrees Celsius and in summer it is -15 to -35 degrees Celsius. With temperatures below zero you would find it so cold you could freeze to death. Scientists recorded the coldest temperatures in the world at Vostock station.

than 5 mm per year. Some places in Antarctica have never had rain in over two million years. Because of its low rainfall it fits the definition of a desert. In fact it is the driest desert in the world.

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• The highest and the coldest place on earth.

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Antarctica is also the windiest place in the world. The wind speed can be as much as 300 kilometres an hour – stronger than a tropical hurricane. Also, the ice is thicker in Antarctica than anywhere else – over 4000 metres thick!

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It does have heavy falls of snow but not in the centre, only on the edges of the continent.

Because of the climate there are few plants on the icy surface of Antarctica – mostly only algae, lichens and mosses.

Adelie Penguins © COREL

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r o e t s Bo r e p ok This unique continentu has no humidity S in the air. because it has no moisture

© ReadyEdPubl i cat i ons Birds, seals, and penguins are the •f orr evi ew pu r p os eso nl y • only land animals. These animals

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manage to survive the harsh conditions because they have adapted to the icy cold water. Their blood has to be more like antifreeze than water!

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Humans are only recent visitors to Antarctica. They did not know it existed until the 1800s! Now scientists continue to study the mysteries of Antarctica, such as what lives in the sea under the ice, and to look for minerals and oil. Some tourists visit to enjoy the scenic icy wasteland, the unusual animals and the freezing weather.


Reef lagoons of the Great Barrier Reef

r o e t s B r e ooorganism – the Coral is a living p u hardened coral isk the home built by a S tiny animal which hides inside. Coral

Great Reef!

© iStockphoto.com/KJA Photo

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The reef lagoons are areas of still water close to the Great Barrier Reef. The water is warm and shallow making it an ideal resting place for humpback whales during the winter months.

can come in many different colours and sizes because there are over 350 different species. The Great Barrier Reef is so beautiful that it is listed as one of the seven natural wonders of the world. It is also a marine park which means it is protected by the government. Scientists have to wear snorkels and goggles to investigate the Great Barrier Reef. They know there is a lot to learn about the way reefs grow and how species depend on each other. There are many threats to the life of the reef. At the moment many people are worried because the reef is dying off and no one is sure why this is happening. It could be because of global warming, or some kind of disease.

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© ReadyEdPubl i cat i ons •f orr evi ew pur posesonl y•

The Great Barrier Reef is the biggest coral reef in the world – nearly 2000 kilometres long. It is so big you can see it from outer space. Guess how old it is? Did you guess it is more than a million years old? In fact it is 20 million years old!

. t o Amazingly, it ise not one long reef – it c . is made up of manyc coral islands e her r o and thousands of individual reefs. It t s s r u e p is really an ecosystem because it has such an array of different species living around it – not just visiting whales. It has sponges, shellfish (crustaceans), fish, birds, dugongs, turtles, dolphins and even crocodiles.

Tourists still love to visit and marvel at this spectacular natural structure. It has to be cared for so it will be preserved for others to see in the future.

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r o e t s Bo r e ok Humpbacks mainly eat p tiny little u crustaceans calledS krill, which are a type of baby prawn about five centimetres long. They also eat shrimp, plankton and schools of small fish. Plankton is something like a very small jellyfish. Humpbacks do not have echolocation, like toothed whales, which send out sounds to bounce off objects to find their dinner. They have to find their food by sight or by smell.

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What’s for dinner?

the months humpbacks spend © ReadyEdFor P u bl i cat i ons travelling on their migration and while they are at the lagoons made •f orr evi ew pu r p os es on l y•

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East Australian humpbacks feed six months of the year in Antarctica, where it is summer but still freezing.

by coral reefs, marine biologists believe they eat very little or nothing at all. Usually mammals have to hibernate to survive without eating, but whales live off their large store of blubber during the trip. Not only that – female whales have to make milk for their calves to drink! They lose a lot of weight during the trip.

o c . che e r o t r s can eat about sup Adult humpbacks er

2000 kilograms of feed a day. Compare this with how much you eat a day! Humpbacks in the northern hemisphere eat more fish, such as mackerel and herring, as well as krill.

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© iStockphoto.com/Vicki Beaver

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Catching dinner with nets made of bubbles © Wikipedia

Look mum – no teeth!

Humpback whales use a few tricks to catch the krill. If there is plenty of krill the whales just open their mouths, swim straight towards them and gulp up to 2,000 litres of water. As they do this their mouth expands. Then they spit the water out while the baleen acts like a filter to stop the krill or fish from escaping. The whales lick their ‘lips’ and swallow the food left in their mouths. They are called ‘swallowers’ because they swallow the fish or krill without chewing.

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© ReadyEdPubl i cat i ons •f orr evi ew pur posesonl y•

Some types of whales have teeth to bite their food. Others, like humpbacks, don’t have any teeth. Instead they have a funny material called baleen. Baleen is similar to fingernails, hair or cow horns and is made of keratin. It is like the bristles of a toothbrush. The whales don’t use their baleen to munch with; they catch krill, like tiny prawns, which cannot escape through the bristly baleen. The name for baleen type whales comes from the Greek word Mysticetes and means ‘with a moustache’. And it is true that they do look like they have a moustache!

o c . che e r o t r s sup When there is less krill or fish, er

humpbacks release bubbles from their blowhole while swimming in a spiral. Then they swim up through the cylinder of bubbles and catch the krill stuck inside the bubbles. This is called ‘bubble netting’. 19


Food chains When humpback whales eat the microscopic marine animals, called krill, they form part of a cycle because krill eat phytoplankton. Phytoplankton, in turn, use energy from the sun to grow. You can see how this works on a food chain:

r o e t s Bo r e p ok u S krill

humpback whale

Here is another food chain: phytoplankton

zooplankton

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phytoplankton

EATEN BY

fish

squid

seal

polar bear

All animals have to eat. They depend on other microorganisms, plants and/or animals for their survival. Plants and micro-organisms get their energy from the sun.

© ReadyEdPubl i cat i ons EATEN BY •f or evi ewincluding pur p os esonl y• Other animals prey onr humpbacks orcas (killer

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phytoplankton

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phytoplankton

krill

humpback whale

orcas

krill

humpback whale

sharks

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whales), great white sharks and humans. You can draw their food chain like this:

EATEN BY

o c . che e r o t r If one animal or plant in the chain disappears, this s s r u e p threatens the lives of the other animals on the planet. phytoplankton

krill

humpback whale

humans

They would not have anything to eat and may die out. Animals which do not have another animal which eats them are at the top of the food chain. They are called apex predators.

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No friends of the whale Orcas are another species of marine mammals, similar to whales and dolphins. They are also called killer whales because they hunt for whales and round up and attack them like wolves in a pack. At one time, in New South Wales, orcas helped whalers to round up the migrating whales and herd them into shore where it was easier to spear them with harpoons from longboats. The whalers rewarded the orcas with their favourite part of the humpbacks – the tongue and lips. Orcas must think they are scrummy!

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© iStockphoto.com/Jan Daly

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How long do humpback whales live for?

Humpbacks live to be up to 50 years old in the wild. No one knows how old they live to be in captivity. But you wouldn’t want to see a whale in a zoo, would you? A whale wouldn’t fit inside a swimming pool anyway!

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© ReadyEdPubl i cat i ons •f orr evi ew pur posesonl y•

o c . che e r o t r s super © iStockphoto.com/Jerry Klavans

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Some of their acrobatics include:

Motor-boating

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Humpback whales are famous for their acrobatics performed on the oceans’s surface. If you ever have a chance to see them when you go whale watching, you’ll find how spectacular they look.

© iStockphoto.com/Jan-Dirk Hansen

The whale catches a wave with its head out of the water and moves along like a surfboard rider.

© ReadyEdPubl i cat i ons Tail-slapping •f orr evi ew pur posesonl y•

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Fin waving

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The whale lifts one of its pectoral fins clear of the water and waves its stubby arm.

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© iStockphoto.com/Xavier MARCHANT

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Tail-slapping – or tail lobbing – is where the whale lifts its tail out of the water and slaps it down on the surface with a mighty crash. Some experts claim humpbacks definitely smack on the surface of the water with their tail to warn of danger. Others say it could be to scare other whales or orcas away.

© iStockphoto.com/Edzard de Ranitz

Gambolling When a whale rolls around in play we say it is gambolling. This is a bit like you rolling down a hill for fun.


r o e t s Bo r e p ok u S © iStockphoto.com/Dale Walsh

Spyhopping

The whale breaks the surface with its head and has a look around.

Diving

A whale heaves itself out of the water until nearly its whole body is showing. Then it crashes back down into the water again with a mighty thud. No one is sure why whales breach. It could be a display of male aggression; it could be to get rid of the barnacles stuck on their backs; they might just be having fun; or it could be a way to communicate. Can you see how this whale is diving backwards and upside down?

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Breaching

© ReadyEdPubl i cat i ons •f orr evi ew pur posesonl y•

A humpback dives deep to search for its dinner.

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A whale blows out so much air at once that it spouts a stream of water and some oil high into the air like a three metre high fountain.

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Tail dancing

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Spouting © Imsi

A whale sticks its tail above the surface and floats with its head underwater. This could be a way of resting.

o c . che e r Whales have even been seen to swim o t r s supe rbreach, wave and dive in along, pairs – a bit like synchronised swimming! They usually swim 3 to 10 kilometres an hour but can go up to 25 kilometres an hour if they are in danger.

© Simon Elwen

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purpose, how the sounds are made r o e t s B r is so complicated. e or why the song oo p u k While there is no doubt that the S songs have a meaning, scientists

All whales communicate by using sounds such as clicks, whistles, grunts and sighs, although marine biologists are not sure what they are saying to each other. As well as these ‘talking’ sounds scientists have recorded whales singing, alone or to each other during their long migration. These ‘songs of the humpback’ are the ones you will probably hear when you listen to whale songs or nature music on CDs. Everyone is surprised that only male humpbacks are singers. Females only make a few noises like groans and clicks.

only have theories about why the whales sing.

Sound travels much further through water than through air, so the song of a whale can be heard by another whale hundreds of kilometres away. Perhaps the humpbacks are telegraphing postcards over long distances.

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The singing sounds like jazz – high pitched tweets, loud blasts, clicks and ribbits. The same melody or sequence of sounds is repeated over and over for about 10 minutes. The tune is sung by all the males in the pod and it becomes slightly different each year. What do these songs mean? Why do only the males sing the same amazing tunes? How do the tunes change from season to season? No one understands the

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© ReadyEdPubl i cat i ons around here!” they might The songs could be top ••f o r r e v i e w u r posesonl y• be singing. attract a female, with the

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best singer winning – • Possibly the songs help to something like an keep the group together – Antarctic idol something like a national competition. They could anthem. be singing to the female: • Maybe they are chanting “Hi, you’re looking good the legends of the pod today!” But why, then, do about times past – a bit like the males swim up to folksongs. other males who are • Could they be chatting singing and join in? about the weather? Or • Perhaps the songs could how the currents are be to attract other males flowing? Or maybe into a group so they can discussing global warming? attack a male who is already attached to a They could even be singing a female. “We’re the boss type of whale sea shanty!

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. te o c Females give birth to a calf every two The mother feeds the calf for about . c e or three years. The baby h grows inside a year and weans it off the milk as r e o t r s r up its mother for eleven months. As s the baby starts to become more e How often do humpback whales have babies?

How long does it take for a baby to grow up?

soon as the calf is born the mum quickly pushes it to the surface to take a breath of air.

independent, between seventeen months and four years. The calves are fully mature and ready to have their own babies at about five years of age.

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How does the female choose a mate?

Whale Fact

r o e t s Bo r A baby humpback is called a e p okis a cow and calf, the female u the adult male is a bull. S

Where are calves born? In Australia mature humpbacks mate in the warm waters of lagoons formed inside the coral reefs of the Great Barrier Reef. The group return to these same lagoons the following winter and the baby calves are born.

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The male of the species shows off his acrobatic skills to the female by breaching, splashing about, racing up and down, and slapping. Often a group of whales will appear to have a swimming race, almost like a contest. The winner mates with the female. He also looks after the female and the calf when it is born, by accompanying them on the long journeys north and south.

it. Sometimes she lies on her back and puts her fins around the calf as it swims across her belly. As the baby gets older, it head-butts its mother to get attention. The mother can react in one of two ways – either she gently pats the baby with her fin or else she stops it by holding it firmly. It’s almost as if she is showing her disapproval and saying: “Don’t do that again!”

Bringing up baby

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A humpback baby drinks fat-rich milk which squirts from its mother’s teat. It needs 600 litres of milk a day – that’s a lot more than a human baby drinks. There is a lot of fat in the milk and the calf only nurses for fifteen minutes a day. Human babies are very different because they have to suck for about four hours a day.

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Think about the things you have to learn while you are a baby – to put food in your mouth, to walk, to talk and to dress yourself.

o c . che e r o t r s supe r Mum has to teach her calf how to

The baby hovers close to its mother all the time and the mother touches it often. She almost wraps her winglike fins around the baby to comfort

What does a baby humpback have to learn?

find and eat its dinner. Dad teaches baby how to sing. And baby learns acrobatics and how to find its way to the lagoons of the Great Barrier Reef and back home again. Pretty clever, don’t you think? 27


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In the age before electricity and petrol engines, houses were lit by candles and oil lamps. Imagine your house with no electric light bulbs. Whale oil was a wonderful way to light the house using lamps – even though it was slightly smelly. One whale could produce hundreds of litres of oil.

• • • •

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Whale oil was also made into other r o e t s B as: r e products sucho p ok • cooking fat u S Whale • margarine Fact

soap pencils and crayons oil to make it easier to comb wool oil to grease machinery.

Their meat and bones were made into: • food for humans – whale steaks must be the largest in the world! • animal feed • fertiliser from the ground-up bones.

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Their baleen was used as: • whips for horses • ribs for umbrellas • bones to support corsets • hoops to make dresses and skirts stand out.

o c . che e r o t r sof whaling sup er History

In the 19th century many countries of the world hunted humpback whales for their bodies. You had to be adventurous to ride out in a small boat rowed by a few sailors to

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of whales killed, and choosing which ones needed full protection. It was lucky plastic or metal replaced many whale products. Electric lights replaced the oil lamps. People started making margarine from plant oils such as canola, olives or peanuts. The Australian government decided to protect the humpback whales in the southern hemisphere and in 1963 banned the hunting of these beautiful creatures.

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At one point it looked as if the humpback whale was going to become extinct! The whaling industry was too greedy. Many countries realised there was a problem and joined together in 1946 to form the International Whaling Commission. This group aimed to conserve the whales all around the world by setting limits on the number

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capture a whale bigger than you with a small harpoon. People set up whaling stations along the east coast of Australia at Bicheno, Eden and Byron Bay. They killed humpbacks and right whales. (40,000 humpbacks in Australian waters alone – ABS 1370.0) In the early 20th century it became easier to catch them using powerful harpoon guns and faster boats with steam-powered engines.

The number of humpbacks in Australian waters increased very slowly over the years. Illegal hunting of whales continued for some time in Antarctic waters. These days whale watchers report thousands of humpbacks are migrating each year up the coastline of Australia. But the populations around New Zealand and the Cook Islands are still very small.

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Toothed whales usually use r o e t s Bo r echolocation to detect objects and e p ok works by distances. Echolocation u sending out pulses which bounce off S

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fish, rocks and objects and come back to the animal’s sensitive ears. This mechanism may be affected if the whales have an ear infection. They may stray close to the shore, be confused by a gently sloping beach, or be muddled by the sound of sirens or the sound waves from underwater explosions. The ocean is becoming noisier all the time. Humpback whales do not have echolocation and so they probably do not have the problems of infection or confusion. This seems to be a reason why they do not strand as often as toothed whales.

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Sometimes whales become stranded on a beach. No one knows why this happens. Humpback whales do not beach themselves very often, unless they are sick or old. More often it is the other type of whales – the ones with teeth – which get stranded.

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Some species of toothed whales, e.g. pilot whales, will follow the distressed call of one whale which has beached and then become stranded themselves. This is called a mass stranding and can result in hundreds of whales dying. Even if one whale is saved and towed out to


What do you do if you find a whale stranded on a beach? • Get help or ring for help. • Try to identify the first animal which stranded and help it first.

r o •e Clear the whale’s blowhole t s B r e o passages of dirt or sand. p o u k • Keep its skin wet with wet cloths or S by pouring water over its back.

Marine biologists continue to study these events to help save the whales from beaching themselves.

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sea by helpers, it will still try to get back to the others. This has led some people to say that whales commit suicide, or they are overpopulated and so do it to cull their own numbers. These are not good explanations on why whales beach themselves. It is more likely that, because the ties between members in the pod are so strong, they are chasing up the distress signal and accidentally strand themselves too.

• Dig out underneath the whale and wait for the tide to turn. • Do not drag it out to sea by its tail!

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Fact

Whales can breathe out of water so why do they die if they are stranded?

o c . che e When they are beached, r o t r s do not have water super whales

supporting them. They are so heavy that their lungs are crushed by the weight of their own bodies.

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Before the days of the whalers scientists estimate that there were about 100,000 humpback whales which sailed up the east coast of Australia on their annual migration. After only ten years of whaling the number dropped to less than 500. The latest reports of the east Australian humpback by whale watching groups say that there were about 8000 individuals in 2006 and 10,000 in 2007. Little by little the numbers are increasing as long as the whales are not put at risk by new dangers.

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Whale watching is now an ecotourism activity in places like Bicheno, Narooma, Port Stephens,

Bay. Hopefully operators of the boats which travel out to sea will respect and value the whales they are observing, otherwise the whales will flee and stay away. Sometimes the whales seem to enjoy ‘showing off’ to the crowds. But they will dive and swim away if the area is overcrowded or too noisy.

o c . che e r o t r sare strict guidelines about sup Now there er how close boats can go to a whale cruising along the coastline. The safety zone is 30 metres for divers and swimmers, 100 metres for boats and watercraft, and not closer than 300 metres above in a plane.

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Teac he r

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ia image Wikiped jumping. e, ia gl aean tera nov e, Megap ack whal “Humpb

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nature, which does not hurt the environment. It helps people to understand the natural world. Eco-tourism can be adventure travelling or sightseeing. For example: rock climbing, snorkelling with a camera, bush walking, outback safaris, horse riding, white water rafting, caving or visiting national parks and botanical gardens.

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animals, plants and microorganisms depend on each other to survive. They live together in a food web or chain, with each species eating or being eaten. If one species dies out this will upset the balance and scientists cannot predict what will happen after that. Some say if a tiny insect such as an ant or a cockroach dies out this may cause humans to become extinct too because it will prevent the food chain from working.

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What is eco-tourism?

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Threats to the humpback Possible threats to the beautiful humpback include: • oil spills by damaged tankers or ships which run aground.

• krill moving around or being harvested by krill fisheries. In Antarctica large factories are netting krill to make into krill oil, fish food, chemicals and food additives.

• plastic and rubbish dumped at sea or washed out to sea. • poisoning from industrial waste such as mercury, lead, calcium, copper, and zinc entering the water. Sometimes these are dumped illegally.

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r o e t s Bo r e p okstarfish. This • the crown of thorns u organism is devastating the Great S Barrier Reef at an alarming rate.

• noise pollution by scientists. Oil companies let off explosions to try to locate oil and gas under the seabed. Military ships try to detect submarines by sending out low frequency sonar.

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• reduction in the amount of food because of overfishing and the use of nets.

This will reduce the number of safe places for whales to find their mates and to have their babies.

Humpback whales are at risk of extinction – scientists call them vulnerable. Many of these dangers are problems directly caused by other mammals – humans. One of the latest problems is a program called the ‘scientific whaling program’, where countries claim whales kill too many fish and need to be ‘culled’ – destroyed. They use factory ships to kill whales to investigate their biology and behaviour. The whales are cut up, frozen and sold to people for eating purposes. This scientific research program continues even though other countries try to stop it.

to streams and into oceans.

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• trawling by fishing boats. They drag huge nets along the bottom of the ocean capturing every species of marine life, whether it is useful to humans or not.

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• disturbance by humans. People interfere with normal whale behaviour by coming too close, or blocking migration paths. • climate change. Climate change affects weather patterns, which may result in warmer sea temperatures, reduced whale habitats, and trouble with food supplies in the food chain.

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The future of the humpback and other whales is really the story of the future of humans and other animals on this planet too. Despite all efforts the humpback is still listed as vulnerable.


Frequently Asked Questions How can you tell one humpback whale from another?

Do humpback whales eat during their long migration?

Scientists think humpbacks do not r o e t s r eat theB whole time they are away e o p oorkArctic waters. from Antarctica u However some people report S humpbacks feed at Eden and other How do humpback whales sleep? Humpbacks don’t fall asleep like humans. Half their brain falls asleep at any one time.

Do all whales have the same shape spray or blow?

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You can identify a particular whale by the scalloped edge of its tail or fluke.

places along the east coast of Australia.

How is a baby humpback born?

A calf is born tail first. Then the mother quickly pushes it to the surface to take its first breath of air.

© ReadyEdPubl i cat i ons Every species of whale has its own When doe humpbacks become •f o r e vi ew pur pos sonl y • shape spray, or r blow. The

Do humpbacks males ever fight to the death?

adults?

Humpback ‘children’ reach puberty between four and seven years. They become adults at about 15 years of age. They are a little bit ahead of humans with this as humans reach puberty between 12 and 14 years of age and become full adults at 18.

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humpback’s spray is shaped like a fountain; others are like a pear, a spout or a line.

. tefight each other by Humpbacks will o c . breaching and crashing down, ch e r Whalest can breathe out of water er o smashing their tail and head-butting s s upe sor why do they die if they are each other. The whales can be injured and have scars as a result of the fight, but they do not usually die.

stranded?

When they are beached, whales are so heavy their lungs are crushed by the weight of their own bodies.

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r o e t s Bo r e p ok u S

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Some countries say they are doing scientific whaling to collect research specimens so they can recommence commercial hunting of whales. When there was a shortage of food many people survived by eating whale meat. Also, whale is a traditional dish in some places, although even people in these countries say they don’t like the taste of whale meat, as it is very tough when it is cooked.

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How many humpback whales are migrating every year to the Great Barrier Reef?

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Why do some countries continue whaling around the world?

It is still very difficult to get exact numbers of humpback whales in the world because there is not an accurate way to count them. In 2006, scientists and other whale watchers estimated that 10,000 whales swam up and back the east coast of Australia.

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Glossary Glossary of Whale Words Cold-blooded

Baleen is found in the mouths of some whales instead of teeth. It is made of keratin. Fingernails, hair and cow horns are made of keratin too.

Mammals can be cold-blooded or warm-blooded. If they are cold-blooded they cannot control their own temperature and stay the temperature of the air around them.

Blubber

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Baleen

Blubber is a layer of fat underneath the skin which keeps a marine animal warm in icy waters.

Critically endangered

Breaching

Echolocation

When a marine animal, such as a whale, dolphin or an orca, jumps out of the water and crashes down onto its back or side, this is called breaching.

A sixth sense used by animals for finding their way around the environment by sending out signals which bounce off objects and come back to their sensitive ears.

A species of animal is at very high risk of extinction.

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Endangered

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A species of animal or plant is at risk of extinction.

o c . No more members of a species che e r o are alive. r st supe r Extinct

Food chain

A food chain shows the sequence in which animals eat other animals or plants.

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Gambol To play, do acrobatics or catch waves.

Krill Tiny shrimp-like marine animals eaten by baleen whales.

Plankton Small transparent sea animals like jellyfish.

Shanty

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r o e t s B r e o Mammal p Spyhopping o u k An animal with certain When a whale lifts its head out of S characteristics such as a skeleton, the water to look around. A sailor’s song, usually about the sea.

a complex brain, warm-blooded and bearing live young.

Tail lobbing

Marine biologists

When a whale smacks its tail onto the surface of the water.

The scientists who study animals which live in the sea.

Vulnerable

risk oft extinction, © ReadyEdAnimals Pubatl i ca i onsbut less likely to become extinct than When more than whale gets • f oone rr evi ew pu r pwhich ose s onl y• those are endangered.

Mass stranding

Migration

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When an animal moves from one area to another to meet its needs for food or having babies, usually with the seasons.

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Whaling Capturing and killing whales for their meat, oil and bones. Whaling is illegal but some countries continue to kill whales, supposedly for scientific purposes to get supporting evidence so commercial whaling can recommence or continue.

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stranded or stuck on a beach.

o c . c e her Marine mammals which hunt r o t s uper whales in packs. They are similar s Orcas

in appearance to dolphins.

Warm-blooded

Phytoplankton

Warm-blooded mammals are able to maintain their own body temperature by using food as fuel.

Microscopic plants living in the sea. They get their energy from sunlight.

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Further Sources of Information Bibliography Books and Magazines: Amazing Facts About Australian Marine Life, S Parish, Archerfield Queensland: Steve Parish Publishing Pty. Ltd., 1997.

Whales, N. Barrett, Franklin Watts, 1989.

Mammals From Around the World. J Bailey, London: Andromeda Oxford Ltd., 1996.

Hidden Lives of Humpbacks, National Geographic, January 2007, Vol 211. No 1, pp 72 - 93.

Zahn, Headline Book Publishing, 1989.

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r o e t s BThe new environmental r Whales:o e p oeighty survey of over species of the u k Factfile of Mammals S – 200 world’s largest mammals, K. Whales and Dolphins, The Sierra Club Handbook, S. Leatherwood and R. Reeves, Sierra Club, San Francisco, 1983.

© ReadyEdPu bl i cat i ons Whale Watching in Australia and New Zealand Waters, P.• Gill and •f orr evi ew pur p o s e s o n l y C. Burke, Reed New Holland,

Mammals, An Explore your World Handbook, Discovery Books, London, 2000.

Thar She Blows! Where to see Whales and Dolphins in Australia, F. Chivell Hast, Matchbooks, 1989.

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Australia, 2004. Whales and Other Sea Mammals, Wild, Wild World of Animals, T. Dozier, Time-Life Films, New York, 1977.

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Singing Giants, Explore, The Australian Museum Magazine, Spring 2007, pp 20 – 21.

o c . The Encyclopediac ofh Mammals, Dr Video Sources: e r o t D. Macdonald, Oxford e University r s s r u e p Whales on the Brink, Animal Press, Oxford, 2001. Planet, Optus TV, 1999.

The Whitsundays Book, D. Colfelt, Windward Publications Pty. Ltd., 1995.

Explorer’s Journal Whale Tales, Animal Planet, Optus TV Sunday, 1999.

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Websites: Internet Resources www.whales.org.au/discover/hump/humpg.html animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Megaptera_novaeangliae.html

r o e t s Bo r e p ok u S

www.abc.net.au/oceans/whale/type.htm#humpback

www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/npws.nsf/Content/Humpback+whale

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www.bbc.co.uk/nature/blueplanet/factfiles/mammals/humpback_whale.shtml www.amonline.net.au/factsheets/humpback_whale.htm

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www.defenders.org/wildlife_and_habitat/wildlife/whale.php

www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/whales/species/Humpbackwhale.shtml www.physorg.com/news83825654.html www.nationalgeographic.com.au/gsi/in_the_field.aspx?field=15

© ReadyEdPubl i cat i ons •f orr evi ew pur posesonl y• www.hervey.com.au/Whales/default.htm www.coolantarctica.com/Antarctica%20fact%20file/wildlife/whales/food%20web.htm www.qm.qld.gov.au/features/endangered/animals/humpback.asp

www.fido.org.au/moonbi/moonbi94.html

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www.dpiw.tas.gov.au/inter.nsf/WebPages/SJON-52BVL4?open starbulletin.com/2001/03/06/news/story6.html

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www.abc.net.au/oceans/whale/default.htm www.environment.gov.au/index.html www.abc.net.au/oceans/alive.htm www.aad.gov.au www.wwf.org www.iucnredlist.org www.greenpeace.org/international

hypertextbook.com/facts/2000/MaySy.shtml

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Humpback Whale Series: Resource Book