Whales can be found just about anywhere in the world. Numerous oceans and seas house the largest mammals in the world, and this goes both for toothed and baleen whales. When it comes to baleen whales in particular, it is important to consider the specific species of whale and their unique migration patterns and natural habitats separately. Through that approach, it becomes easy not only to find the most likely locations where the whales may live, but also to track down specific land-based locations where species like bowheads, humpbacks, gray whales and fin whales can be spotted without even leaving the shore.
Baleen whale migration times and periods are usually determined by two distinct factors: the time when plankton blooms and the temperature of the water. In colder months, when the water drops to dangerously low temperatures, baleen whales tend to migrate to warmer climates, most especially to protect their young, which still have undeveloped blubbers, and could die of frostbite. Gray whales have the longest migration periods and distances of any baleen whale, a single gray whale having been tracked to migrate from the Sea of Okhotsk to the Baja Peninsula in Northwest Mexico, over a distance of over 14,000 miles.
Bowhead whales are the only species of whale that spends its entire life in the Arctic and Sub-Arctic regions. Alaska and the Southwestern Bering Sea are the most common locations for finding them. In contrast, blue whales and sei whales live in all of the world’s oceans except the Arctic and Antarctic. The largest groups can be found in the North Pacific, North Atlantic and in the Indian Ocean close to Sri Lanka. The grey whale, on the other hand, only features two small populations in the North Pacific. The North Atlantic gray whales became completely extinct as early as the 18th century.
Typically, three places that are best for actually spotting baleen whales when they surface include Alaska, Iceland and the Canadian Arctic. Alaska is one of the best places for seeing humpback whales in their natural habitat. Here, groups of humpbacks work together to build circular nets that trap shoals of herring. Iceland is also an exemplary location for spotting whales from land. Species of blue and humpback whales can be observed here on a regular basis. Finally, the best place in the world to spot the longest living whale in existence, the bowhead whale, is the Canadian Arctic.