During 100 trips out to see the whales we often saw what is known as "pec slapping". This is when the Humpback whale will be swimming in a very relaxed state on the surface of the water lifting and dropping it's massive pectoral fins into the water on one side of it's body or the other.
The pectoral fin of an adult Humpback Whale can be 15 feet in length making it ithe longest pectoral fin of any whale and adults pectoral fin can weigh up to one third of the whales body weight so make a big splash when it hits the water.
Pectoral slapping is believed to be a means of communication letting other whales know that particular whale is in the area. I've only seen Humpbacks doing this when they are a very relaxed state ambling along on the surface of the water.
It certainly doesn't seem to be an aggressive manouver and is only seen when the whale is in a relaxed state.