Yes, there are many different species of whales that can be found in the waters surrounding Florida, in both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Depending on the time of year, the average water temperature can range from 60-80 degrees. The warm water and abundant food supply make it an ideal place for whales to live and breed.
Some whales live in Florida waters year round, and others migrate from colder waters during the winter months. Once springtime comes, they migrate back to their regular feeding grounds.
SOME OF THE WHALES FOUND IN FLORIDA INCLUDE:
• BRYDE’s WHALE: Adult males grow to around 40-50 feet in length, and weigh around 13 tons. Females are slightly larger than males.
• PYGMY SPERM WHALE: Adult males & females are around 10 feet long and weigh up to 900 pounds
• FIN WHALE: One of the fastest of the great whales, it is capable of speeds of up to 23 MPH. Adult males can be up to 78 feet long, with females being slightly larger. The average weight for either sex is between 50-70 tons.
• HUMPBACK WHALE: Humpback’s grow to about 52 feet long, and weigh between 30-50 tons. Females are slightly larger than the males. They have massive 4-chambered hearts, which weigh around 430 pounds!
• ORCA (aka KILLER WHALE): Adult males can be 32 feet long, and weigh up to 9 tons. Females are smaller, and average 23 feet in length, and weigh up to 4 tons.
• MINKE WHALE: Adults average 25-30 feet in length, and weigh around 7 tons
• SHORT-FINNED PILOT WHALE: Adults average around 20 feet in length, with females being smaller than males.
• SEI WHALE: Adult males average 45-55 feet in length, sometimes growing to a length of 65 feet, and weigh up to 17 tons. Females are slightly smaller than the males.
• SPERM WHALE: With the largest brain of ANY animal – weighing in at around 20 POUNDS – Sperm Whales are also the largest toothed whale. Adult males can grow to a length of 60 feet, and weigh up to 50 tons. Females are much smaller, usually between 33-40 feet long, and weighing 14-18 tons.
• TRUE’S BEAKED WHALE: Very rarely seen, as they prefer deep water. The largest female documented was 19 feet long, and weighed 3,080 pounds.
ONE OF THE WHALES MOST COMMONLY SEEN IN FLORIDA WATERS IS THE ATLANTIC RIGHT WHALE:
Right whales are considered endangered – as they were hunted to the verge of extinction – but have been making a slow comeback since laws were passed to protect them. It is now estimated that there are about 400-500 right whales in existence.
Each winter they migrate south to Florida, where many of them spend the winter months (from November to April) off the coast between Cape Canaveral and Jacksonville.
Right whale sightings are not frequent; there are only about 75 sightings reported each winter. They often swim close to the shore – about ¼ of a mile from the beach – which can make them easy to spot from shore.
• Right whales adults measure between 45 and 55 feet long, and weigh up to 70 tons. • Females are larger than the males (as is true of all baleen whales). • Many females give birth to their calves while in Florida waters.
• Calves are usually 13-15 feet in length when they are born.
• Right whale calves aren’t able to hold their breath very long, so pods typically swim close to the water’s surface.
• Their main food source is zooplankton, including euphausiids, copepods and cyprids, which they skim from the water using baleen plates.