Costa Rica is a prime whale watching destination and it is all thanks to the spectacular annual migration of two groups of humpback whales. This long journey starts when temperatures in both North and South America start to cool during their respective winters. Humpbacks quickly head toward the equator where waters are warmer—and Costa Rica is one of their favorite spots. An amazing fact is that this migration is the longest of any mammal in the world, spanning a distance of up to 5,160 miles (8,300 km). These whales can go fast too, and one was recently recorded making a 3,000 mile (4,830 km) trip in only 36 days!
Once the whales get to Costa Rica, it’s not just about vacationing in the sun. Humpbacks congregate together and use the months that they are here to find suitable mates, breed, and rear young. The temperate waters are thought to be ideal for the growth of baby whales, even though they can already be 13-16 feet (4-5 m) long and weigh up to 1 ton (907 kg) at birth. We have been seeing these on our morning snorkeling trips, mothers with their calves.