Whale Breach

In the latest edition of Marine Mammal Science a team from the University of Queensland published a paper outlining an explanation of the much observed and highly spectacular “breaching” behaviour.

Thanks to @MJ_Coren for his article in Quartz.

Paper: Evidence for the functions of surface-active behaviors in humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae)

As part of their social sound repertoire, migrating humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) perform a large variety of surface-active behaviors, such as breaching and repetitive slapping of the pectoral fins and tail flukes; however, little is known about what factors influence these behaviors and what their functions might be. We investigated the potential functions of surface-active behaviors in humpback whale groups by examining the social and environmental contexts in which they occurred…

…Involvement in group interactions, such as the splitting of a group or a group joining with other whales, was an important factor in predicting the occurrence of pectoral, fluke, and peduncle slapping, and we suggest that they play a role in close-range or within-group communication.

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