Humpback whales are extremely active above the surface. They often breach, and slap the water with either their fins and tail flukes. Researchers now understand more about why the whales do these things. They say the behaviours are all forms of communication, as the video above explains. The research is Marine Mammal Science. Join over six million BBC Earth fans by liking us on, or follow us on
If you liked this story, called \”If You Only Read 6 Things This Week\”. A handpicked selection of stories from BBC Future, Earth, Culture, Capital, Travel and Autos, delivered to your inbox every Friday. QUESTION: Why do whales jump out of the water? Stuart Woodcock, Coolamon, NSW Dr Chandra Salgado Kent, whale expert at Curtin University, says: When a whale breaches, its body leaves the water.
Some likely theories are that breaching occurs in competitive displays between males. Others suggest it may be a warning for perceived threats, such as predators, or even unwanted attention from vessels. Another theory is that breaching may be a form of communicating over great distances; the acoustic signal of a whale breaching can be intense and, as sound travels faster in water than air, it can be a quick way to transmit information such as location and size.
It has been suggested that it may be a technique to stun or scare prey, ultimately helping them feed.
All in all, whales most likely do not breach for any single reason в rather they likely breach for a variety of reasons, which help them communicate, deter threats, successfully forage and mate, and in general help them survive in their very dynamic world under water. If you have a question for an expert, email it to. RELATED ARTICLES