Humpback Whale Breaching
The Humpback Whale breach is a powerful sight that physically takes your breath away when you see it. When a large Humpback Whale launches itself out of the water it is one of life’s special experiences if you are there to see it.
The power of a large whale breaching with the sea spray whipping around it, the spout that usually accompanies the breach and the displacement of tons of water as it lands is an extremely powerful sight.
Humpback Whales breach for a variety of reasons, to relieve themselves of parasites, to scare off predators and probably just for the sheer joy of jumping out of the water, twisting and turning and smacking back into the water.
Some Humpback Whales will breach more than once in a few minutes, some just keep breaching, double breaches are also common as two whales hurtle through the air.
A female Humpback can often be seen teaching her calf to breach.
Calves are often seen breaching for long periods.
A fully grown Humpback Whale can grow as large as 48 feet (15 metres) in length and weigh as much as 45 tons which is a very powerful breach to see indeed.
A true breach is where the whales body is at least three quarters of it’s length out of the water or more.
The whale can come out of the water backwards flinging it’s pectoral fins. It can twist and turn whilst in the air.
A breach inspired by a predator can often make the whale come out of the water with it’s belly down. The whale arches it’s head backwards and then forwards so as to slam it's full under body into the water with maximum force using it’s full body weight to create a resounding “crack” as it hits the water. That sound is amplified under water and hopefully scares off the predator that caused the breach.
Humpback Whales appear more likely to breach on a rough windy day. I have photographed some of my most powerful breach sequences on what I call a "grey water day", the wind is up, there are some swells and there seems to be more surface action and breaching on such a day.
Humpback Whales nearly always breach into the wind.
The Humpback Whale is one of the most acrobatic of all whales and the breach is just a part of it’s above water repertoire.
It is a joy to behold.