Brief Story of the Whale Watching in the Kerama Islands

About ten years ago,island fishermen reported seeing whales in the area. Then the humpback whales have returned to the Kerama,where they once were hunted. Foer several years the number of whales migrating to the Kerama gradually increased. Current from February to March every year,many boats (departed from Naha and each islands) is used for whale watching around the Kerama islands.

Every year from January to April,humpback whales return to the warm and gentle waters of the Kerama to breed. In these waters they mate, and give birth the following winter. When the calves become strong enough to return to the northernocean, they begin the journey with their mothers. Ofen, another whale accompanies the mother and calf. In most case, a male whale attaches himself to them as an "escort". This escort is waiting for a chance to mate with the female whale.

The activities of whales in the ocean near the Kerama islands are related to mating. One sees groups of male whales called "mating pods". Around the female whales, the male whales compete against one another. there are times when the battle is so fierce that a whale is injured.

Also during this period whales sing "songs". The whales that sing these songs are called "singers", and will sometimes ocntinue singing for hours. These songs are often sung during the mating season so it has been said, might not these love-songs?

Although whales live in the ocean, they are not fish but mammals. There are 76 variety of whales which are divided into 2 groups. "Toothed whales" include 66 varieties such as sperm whales,killer whales and dolphins. They eat mainly fish and squid but killer whales also eat other small creatures. There are also 10 variety of "baleen whales" which include humpbacks and blue whales. Baleen whales eat plnkton and samll fish which they strain through their baleen plates.

Blue whales are the largest creatures in the world. Some grow to 25 times the size of an elephant. with a length of 34 meters and a weight of 190 tons ! Whales use songs and sounds to communicate with each other, just as humans communicate with words. Using organs in their head,whales can determine their own location and the shapes of other creatures through sonar.

Here in the Kerama, humpback whales sing "songs". Their singing can be heard underwater from a distance of 30 kirometers. By all means, come and hear their musical love songs with your own ears ! The Kerama islands invite you to experience the thrill of whale watching ! Come and see humpback whales in their natural environment and hear their beautiful "love songs".

(From the information guide published by Kerama Zamami Tourist Information Office)

See also

 Study of Humpback Whales in Japanese Waters WWF Japan supported a survey of humpback whales in Japanese waters from 1988 to 1995. The survey was initiated by a Canadian scientist, Dr.James Darling, with help of Japanese volunteers. He used a method to identify animals by photo identification. Shapes and pattern of flukes of each humpback whale is different like human's finger prints. The purposes were to study status of the species in Northwestern Pacific Ocean and to introduce the method to Japan.
At present in the oceans of our earth there are seventy-six varieties of whales and dolphins comprised of sixty-six kinds of toothed whales and ten varieties of baleen whales. Among those that can have confirmed sightings in the seas off Okinawa are nineteen varieties of toothed whales and seven varieties of baleen whales. One of the most frequently sighted among the baleen whales is the Humpback. The Humpback Whales in the Pacific
In order to win females to pair up with as mates, male whales engage in repeated fierce battles amongst themselves. At certain times as many as two to eight males will accompany one female. The male humpbacks do this to propagate their species and for them it is serious business, but for whale-watchers it is a chance to have an unforgettable experience viewing this dramatic behavior. The seas off Zamami Island are mating seas for the humpback and in contrast to other sea areas, such as feeding seas where such behavior as bubble net fishing can be seen, the Zamami seas are where visitors can come to watch their mating pod behavior.
Humpbacks usually congregate in small groups of one to four but gather in much larger groups when they are in the seas where they feed. Humpback Whales are popular among whale-watchers because of their dynamic performances. Whale Singing
 by Senzo Uchida Humpback Whale