Whale Behaviour

In common with other rorquals (baleen whales with throat grooves), Humpback whales exhibit a range of behaviours, including tail slapping, spyhopping, porpoising, breaching and pectoral slapping.

The exact meaning of this behaviour is still not fully understood, but behaviour such as breaching may involve demonstrations to other whales to indicate territory or dominance.  Behaviour such as lobtailing may be used to school fish into tighter shoals for feeding.  Whales also appear to have a good sense of play.

humpback Talboys


Humpbacks often exhibit a tail display as they prepare for a deep dive.

A humpback whale calf surfaces near Hull Banks


Swimming near the surface with blowhole exposed.



The whale elevates its head from the water to look above the surface.

A humpback whale breaches in Camden Sound


The exact meaning of breaching is unclear, but may serve several purposes,  including dislodging barnacles, as a threat display, as a means of alerting other whales to their presence and for play.  There are both forward and backwards breaches, and the body may leave the water entirely or not.