Humpbacks Are Making a Splash in Turks & Caicos This Time of Year
Between the months of January through early March, the waters surrounding Turks and Caicos become an underwater maternity ward for female humpback whales and their calves, providing visitors with exceptional whale watching opportunities and encounters.
These winter months are when the humpback whales make the long migration from their colder, Arctic waters to the warmer shallows of the Caribbean to mate and give birth.
The gestation period of humpback whales is 11.5 months, and the calves typically stay with their mothers for a year or longer. Female humpback whales typically wait one to two years after the birth of their calves before breeding again, migrating to the Caribbean waters to mate and then returning again the following year to give birth. This explains why you’ll see mother whales with their calves along with males and females without young.
Humpback whales typically stick around from January until early March to give their calves just enough time to grow strong enough for the long trek home to krill-rich, colder waters. Several male humpbacks often stick around as well, serving as body-guards to mama whales and their babies—even if they aren’t the baby’s father.
An Impressive Serenade
Male humpback whales are known for their whale songs which experts surmise are used to attract females and announce their location and territories to other males. Whale songs can last up to 20 minutes long and are repeated for several hours. Males are also known for their impressive surface-behaviors such as breaching, tale and fin slapping.
How to Spot Humpbacks
It’s common this time of year to spot mother humpback whales with their calves, and sometimes other humpback whales swimming along with her.
The easiest way to spot humpback whales is by the unique, heart-shaped sprays of seawater their blowholes make when they surface for air.
Respecting Their Space
Humpback whales feed on small fish and krill, but they don’t feed at all during their time in the Caribbean. While calves live off their mothers’ nutrient rich milk for up to 7 months before weaning, mother humpbacks survive the whole process of migrating, mating or giving birth, feeding and protecting their young and making the trek back home entirely on their fat stores. This is one reason why it is critical that we don’t cause undue stress to the whales when they’re here.
Experience Truly Unique Humpback Whale Encounters in Providenciales, Turks & Caicos
Several charters in Providenciales offer half-day and full-day excursions with the possibility of encountering and even snorkeling with dolphins and whales. Whale watching and underwater encounters, however, cannot be guaranteed. Encountering whales and being granted the unique opportunity to swim with them depends upon the whales themselves.
Charters in Providenciales are mindful of respecting the whales. They do this by keeping a respectful distance and turning their engines off when whales are nearby, providing a welcoming opportunity for curious dolphins and whales to approach onlookers and swimmers.
Expert guides will determine whether or not there’s a good opportunity to enter the water with the dolphins and whales–this depends on the body language and behaviour of the whales. Yes, whales have moods like we do, and understanding their behaviour is vital in respecting their space and enjoying safe and rewarding encounters with them while they’re here.
If you do get the opportunity to snorkel with these gentle giants, it will be an experience you’ll never forget! They are truly magnificent in their size, grace and intelligence. Whereas dolphins are often curious, clever and very playful.
How to Book Your Whale Watching Excursion
While you won’t find dedicated whale watching tours in Providenciales, here’s how to take advantage of the best humpback whale watching opportunities when you visit:
Because whale encounters cannot be guaranteed, a few select charter operators in Providenciales adjust their half and full day snorkeling excursions to increase the likelihood of spotting whales. This way, guests still get to enjoy exploring the pristine waters and reefs of Providenciales with the added, potential perk of encountering whales.
Big Blue Collective: Offers the seasonal opportunity for whale and dolphin encounters (including the possibility of swimming and snorkeling with them) in their Edge of the Banks, Snorkel Ecotour, diving excursions and private half or full day charters.
Romantic Little Glow Worms
Every month during the 3-6 nights following a full moon, the calm, clear waters of Providenciales glitter and glow with the bioluminescence of small marine worms called Odontosyllis enopla.
The beautiful display is actually the result of an intricate mating ritual between the glow worms. It occurs when the female Odontosyllis release their eggs and males dance around while fertilizing them, releasing a pulsating, green, underwater light-display. It’s really something to experience, and makes for an exchanting activity to enjoy while you’re here.
How to Book Your Glow Worm Excursion
Several charters in Providenciales offer sunset and evening “glow worm” cruises excursions in the days following each full moon. Check out this month’s moon & lunar cycles for Providenciales here.
Ocean Vibes: Offers an affordable, family-friendly, 3-hour Glow Worm Sunset Cruise which includes delicious refreshments aboard their 48ft sailing catamaran. Their tours include a free shuttle service to and from select hotels and resorts along the Grace Bay Strip.
We always welcome you to reach out to our concierge for more information and recommendations on exciting excursions and things to do during your visit to Providenciales, Turks and Caicos.
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