The safe, warm waters of New Caledonia’s lagoon provide a haven for the whales during the southern winter. They come to rest, breed, give birth and nurse their calves before returning to the Antarctic in September.
Humpback whales, which grow to lengths of 11 to 13 metres, have long pectoral fins. Nicknamed “clowns of the sea”, they can raise their tail flukes right out of water and slap them forcefully on the surface. These gentle giants, skilled at spectacular, acrobatic jumps, are also famed for their long, intricate songs, thought to be mating calls. Males may repeat their haunting song dozens of times over several hours, varying in amplitude and frequency.