Humpback Whales Are Gathering in South Africa and No One Knows Why (PHOTO)…(Fukushima…)
They are a solitary species, for the most part, with most of their lives spent alone. When they do form groups, they’re small and temporary. And yet groups of as many as 200 of the musical leviathans have been spotted off the coast of South Africa, and experts are stumped as to why.
The only time humpback whales are known to congregate in groups is during their breeding season — but not only is it currently the off-season for the 40-ton beasts, they typically breed in tropical waters only. In fact, humpbacks usually head to Antarctica to feed at this time of year.
The repeated sightings have led to a glut of speculation, but no concrete explanation. The leading theory is that the whales, the majority of whom are juveniles, are gathering to feed in these waters — a typical humpback eats 4,400-5,500 pounds of food daily, and feeds constantly.
But why the whales are gathering in unusual waters, and in such large numbers, is still a mystery. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Ken Findlay with the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in the Arts, whose team has been tracking the whales since they began to congregate in 2011. “These are animals that normally are in groups of up to maybe three of four. To see 200 together in an area the size of a football field is remarkable,” he told The New Scientist.