Spectacle: A Humpback breaches off the South Shore in February of last year. *Photo by Andrew Stevenson
Spectacle: A Humpback breaches off the South Shore in February of last year. *Photo by Andrew Stevenson
Islanders are being asked to report their whale sightings as the first Humpbacks of the season were spotted on New Year’s Eve.

Even before the close of 2010, whales were sighted off the South Shore.

Humpback whales are not usually seen in the waters of Bermuda until their migration north from the Caribbean in the spring.

Re-colonization

Outside of whale-watching season — March to May — it is thought the mammals may be sojourning here.

Andrew Stevenson, the conservationist and filmmaker behind the Humpback Whale Film and Research Project, is to publish a book on Bermuda’s migrating Humpbacks later this year.

He said: “Every year since I’ve been researching the whales, the first sightings are in the last week of December.

“These are not whales migrating northwards as we see in the spring.  I think these are juvenile females too young to mate who are not interested in going down to the winter breeding grounds in the Caribbean, where they will be harassed by males and will get no food.

“At least here they can pick up food from the upwellings (movements of denser, cooler, nutrient-rich waters to the ocean surface) all winter long.

“There is also increasing evidence that Humpback calves are being born here.”

The first whales were spotted on December 31, January 1 and 2. Mr. Stevenson said he also saw two whales off Devonshire Bay which looked like a female with a male escort.

“I also saw what looked like a very small calf’s blow which appeared more frequently than the two bigger blows,” he said.

“If this is the case, it is further indication that the Humpbacks are re-colonizing Bermuda as a breeding ground.

“If so, then Bermuda must be one of the only places in the world where the Humpbacks feed, give birth, and migrate past.

“It’s incredibly important to document these winter sightings.”

Report your sightings to Mr. Stevenson at spout@logic.bm or call 777 7688 (77-SPOUT). Website: www.whalesbermuda.com