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The humpback whales in migration

in tour, magic bal with nice jumps and songs, in Ifaty

Killer whale, dorsal fin
Caudal and dorsal fin, two humpback whales
Two humback whales and a schooner in the background
A humpback whale hump hiding a boat with whalewatchers
head of a southern whale surfacing

From june to october, the annual migration of the humpback whales lead them in front of Ifaty. From end of june to mid-september, and especially from mid-july to the end of august, when they are so many that chance to see them is 100%, we go out to share greats moments with them.

The migration

Every year, when comes the austral winter, the humpback whales leave the Antartica ocean for the warm water of the tropic, where they won't get any food but find good conditions for reproduction and the first few weeks of the calves. From the Antartica, they go all around to the north, along every continent. The ones coming to Madagascar divide in two groups, one going east - Sainte-Marie island, Antongil bay - the other going west - we can watch them in Ifaty - to Comoros.
At the end of the austral winter, they'll follow the same route south, back to Antartica, with the new born calves, and those that will be born next winter.

Whale watching

Whalewatching in Ifaty
Here they are!

During the season, we just have to go out of the lagoon and look for whales blowing. Sometimes next to the reef, sometimes far away off shore, sometimes souther, sometimes norther and sometimes : everywhere. By groups of two, three, up to five, or singles, here they are. Hurrying up or lazily strolling, or in a merry mood. Two whales knowing where they're going, and going there, showing off their hump, or back fin when diving, getting then out of sight for fifteen minutes in average. A mother playing with its calf, hitting the sea with its fins, slowly rolling on itself. Or teaching it, in a big show, the art of jumping.

Partner of the Cetamada organization, we suscribe to their marine mamals watching charter.

Whale silhouette under the boat
Whale under the boat

While crossing the lagoon, an ecoguide will brief you about humpback whales and other marine mammals and how we are going to approach them. Right off the coral reef we look for the blow of whales. Calving whales stay close to the reef and inlets where they can more efficiently protect the calf. Whales groups in activity are more likely to be found further. Lonely whale or couples, anywhere...

After a graduated approach, very slow and cautious in the last five hundred meters, we stay one hundred meters away, two hundred if there is a calf

if they are immobile or move slowly, and thus allow us to do so, we turn the engine off. Whales are as inquisitive as whalewatchers. If they want to, they'll come to us. Ok, we're there for their pleasure, as they are four ours.

A whale breaking the surface of the sea
A whale taking off

They can get very close and play around or beneath the boat, ignore us and get away, dive, sometimes sing right underbeneath the boat and then, rarely, the hull would amplify the song and you'd think it comes from the sky, surface thirty meters away, cheer us with some somersaults and leave.

Playing whale in Ifaty
A whale hitting the sea with caudal fin

They also can be in love and not even see us, keep playing, breaching, hitting, mating with no regard for small boats around and small people in the boats watching them with wonder
They also can, and this is the most frustrating case scenario, dive for ten minutes, and it is very long when you're waiting, surface where and when you don't expect it, blow once or twice and dive for ten more minutes underwater. Backs, tails, blows, you won't see much more on theses days.
In any case, we can't watch adult whales for more than one hour, thirty minutes for a mother and calf.

Killer whale head
Killer whale cruising

At this time of year, it's not rare to see big schools of dolphins, Risso's dolphins, pilot whals and sometimes false killer whales, and even real ones...

And we dive along with the songs of the big whales...

Whalewatching tour, a whole morning and a bit more : 810,000,000Ar / 180000€