Many people have witnessed the magnificent sight of a whale breaching the surface of the ocean from their television or mobile screens, but few have or will ever experience such a sight in real life. There are a couple of theories and ideas about why whales leap out of water.
There are only a few whale species that are widely known to jump out of the water on occasion. The most prominent sightings come from killer whales (orcas), blue whales, grey whales, sperm whales, and humpback whales. Breaching occurs when a whale exposes a large part of its body when they leap out of water.
The size and appearance of whales can leave spectators speechless. Their graceful demeanour and cheerful antics can lead people to ask why they jump out of the water in the first place.
Breaching events occur at different seasons along the coast, and some species may jump out of the water more frequently than others. Humpback whale breaching is common during the breeding season when male humpbacks are known to lurch out of the water and slap their fins on the surface.
The consensus is that whales break the surface tension of the surface with slapping and jumping as a means of communicating with other whales. Big splashes in the water can send messages over long distances. This is useful as whales can often be located long distances away from each other.
Humpback whales have extremely poor eyesight, but Scientists have measured that splashing and slapping on the water enable them to communicate up to 4 kilometres away. However, the low-frequency sounds that whales make can travel many thousands of kilometres through the water. Whales can make high or low-frequency sounds.
Besides the fact that breaching allows whales to communicate more efficiently, it is also attributable to eating patterns. In some cases, the splashing has been known to stun prey, making it easier to catch and consume prey.
Furthermore, male humpback whales use breaching as a series of competitive antics and manoeuvres during the breeding season. This has not yet been established as a method of impressing female whales.
Whale watchers, researchers, and sailors can testify that whales all have unique personalities. Whether whales breach for fun or to catch prey, it is an incredible thing to witness these spectacular creatures in the wild.