Amazing Footage of a Humpback Whale Birth Released

Witness the miracle of life.

Amazing Footage of a Humpback Whale Birth Released | Witness the miracle of life.

The ocean is an incredible, mysterious zone. Its vast, sapphire expanse conceals an otherworldly realm filmed with millions of creatures each with their own families and life cycles. Now, the world has a new glimpse into the lives of the ocean dwellers. The NY Post reports, that National Geographic recently shared a video of the first ever humpback whale birth to be caught on camera. 

Incredible animal journeys
The footage comes from off the coast of Lahaina, a Hawaiian island that is a popular spot for humpback whales to give birth thanks to its warm waters that are relatively free of predators. The birth took place on March 5, 2021 just after sunset.

Rachel Cartwright, a Maui-based whale researcher explained to the New York Post how her team discovered the birth. They were underwater to film a pod of male humpbacks, when they noticed a small fluke emerging from one of the females in the area.“At that point, we knew we had a possible birth,” Cartwright explained.

The research team dropped a drone into the water to capture the footage. “What we saw on the footage is a big burst of blood come out,” Cartwright shared. “And then, two seconds later, we finally saw a calf.”

Cartwright also shares that she was surprised by the presence of the males who seemed to be supporting the birthing mother.  “There’s one beautiful sequence where the mom has got her tail up, and the little baby’s tail is sticking out, and the males go underneath blowing bubbles,” explained Cartwright, adding that humpback whales produce oxytocin in response to humpback bubbles moving across their skins, so, in a way, it was like the male whales were massaging the birthing female.

The footage ends with the baby emerging and nuzzling up to his mother who pushes him to the surface for his first breath. “We’ve been waiting for this for 25 years,” says Cartwright. “It’s never been seen.”

National Geographic released a small clip of the never-before seen, two-year-old footage as a teaser for their new series “Incredible Animal Journeys,” where they promise to release the entire video of the birth.

Sperm whale baby
National Geographic’s footage is significant because it’s the first humpback birth caught in its entirety. But there have been other whale births also captured on camera. 

National Geographic shares the story of Shane Gero whose research team filmed a sperm whale birth this past July. “I have been doing this for almost 20 years,” Gero told National Geographic. “Maybe if I do it for 20 more, there will be another day like this… it was pretty awe-inspiring.” 

The team was following Rounder, a female sperm whale that they’d been in contact with since she was a calf, when they came across 11 sperm whales grouped in rows. In contrast to their usual hustle and bustle, this pod was extremely quiet and still.

As Gero’s drone recorded, they watched the little sperm whale emerge from Rounder. After the birth, the whales started making noise again, and as a group pushed the calf to the surface to take its first breath. They also supported the little sperm whale since its fluke had been compressed during the birth so the baby couldn’t yet swim on its own.

Gero explained, “When she comes out her fluke is like, all floppy, like, the cartilage in the musculature isn't there the whole body just seemed limp.”

Reflecting on the birth, Gero added that, “Moments like this sort of allow you to sort of take stock and realize what an honor it is to do the work that we get to do, and how much I do care about the whales that I work with.”

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