Humpbacks can be spotted throughout the open waters of Galapagos, but the best place for whale watching is in the Bolivar Channel between Isabela and Fernandina islands. The north western islands of Darwin and Wolf can also be great spots for whale watching, but can only be visited as part of a Galapagos dive cruise.
The best months for Galapagos whale watching are from June to December. Galapagos humpback whales are certainly around during this time, the challenge is to spot them!
Humpback whales are seasonal visitors to the Galapagos Islands during the dry season. These massive mammals come to the islands to feed in the nutrient-rich waters of the Humboldt Current, consuming up to four tons of fish and krill each day.
Galapagos Humpbacks prefer relatively shallow waters and are curious social creatures, making them an amazing sight during cruises. Sightings are not so common, but they certainly can and do happen.
Humpback whales can often be seen breaching the waters offshore in spectacular displays of acrobatics, so keep your camera handy. Humpback whales can lift two-thirds of its 40-ton body out of the water. Scientists speculate that this behavior is part of a mating ritual, but also suggest that it might be done for fun.
Another intriguing trait of the Humpback whale is its song, eerily filling the sea with sound during the mating season. Studies reported by National Geographic reveal that groups of humpbacks take a tune and create new songs based on the original, using it to communicate beneath the ocean.
Although commonly seen individually, when feeding Humpbacks work as a group. Pods swim in large circles blowing bubbles upward, trapping small fish in the current. The whales then rise from the depths of the ocean to feed on their prey.
Studies suggest that Galapagos humpback whales learn new behaviors from the other members of their pod. One method used during feeding is lobtail feeding; whales on the surface slap their dorsal fin against the water’s surface, a technique that is thought to keep fish driven to the surface from other members of the pod from jumping out of the water. Research has shown that new members of hunting parties learn this behavior from their peers, effectively proving a social network between humpback whales.
Contact us for a FREE GALAPAGOS TOUR QUOTE, or assistance to organise your Galapagos vacation. To spot humpback whales at Galapagos we recommend a cruise itinerary that includes the Bolivar Channel between Fernandina and Isabela islands. A Galapagos Scuba Dive Cruise is another great alternative.