Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeanglia) breaching, Tenakee Inlet, Southeast Alaska, USA.
Humpback whales love to breach; of that there is no doubt. They are the champion breachers of all whales and can continue jumping for an hour or more. Sometimes they jump completely clear of the water and either fall backwards or on their sides with a resounding thud that reverberates around the surrounding mountains. It is exhilarating to watch and it always leaves you begging for more. It is the most frustrating and challenging behavior to try to photograph because you could never be sure when and where they will jump next, so there are always plenty of surprises in store. It became the holy grail of my whale photography, and more often than not I was left empty-handed, but exhilarated. On so many occasions when I was prepared for the shot they failed to jump and likewise on so many occasions when I wasn’t ready, they jumped; they always kept me guessing, and hoping.
There are many possible reasons for breaching that are similar to those for lobtailing including trying to dislodge barnacles and other parasites, communicating with other whales, herding prey and as a threat display to boats that approach too closely. It could also be just for recreation as I have witnessed on many an occasion; what better way could there be for celebrating your power and size than leaping out of the water and making a whale-sized splash! They often seem to do in the morning as if going for a morning jog, and they sometimes breach in synchronization with other whales, which is often associated with cooperative herding and feeding.
- Duncan Murrell
- Image Size
- 4388x2879 / 10.1MB
- Contained in galleries
- Humpback Whales - Other Behaviour