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Head slap

A head slap occurs when a whale quickly propels the upper portion of its body, sometimes up to the mouth, out of the water, and then forcefully crashes back down onto the surface of the water. This can possibly signify aggressive behavior towards other whales, or might just be an easy way for a whale to loosen parasites on its head.

Peduncle Throw

This uncommonly seen behavior is a direct identifier of whale aggression. This occurs when a whale forcefully throws his caudal peduncle and fluke out of the water sideways, crashing on the surface of the water, or possibly onto another whale!

Peduncle Arc

Seen just before a deep descent, this is where the Humpback Whale receives his name. The whale will force its back out of the water for a more vertical descent, usually followed by a fluke-up.


The whale propels at least 40 % and up to 90% of its body out of the water almost vertically, then turns mid-air onto its side or back producing a large splash that can be seen for miles. This splash can displace several tons of water.

Flipper Slap

While at the surface, a whale will barrel roll onto its side and slap the water with its pectoral fin. This behavior can also be seen while a whale is on its back, slapping the water with both fins. This behavior may also be used when feeding, to stun small schools of fish.


The most common activity to see from a whale is when he breaths or spouts at the surface. The whales’ exhalation is forced with a blast out of its blowhole, producing a cloud of mist. The blow is one way to identify certain types of whales. Gray Whales have 2 blowholes and spout a V-shape, while Blue Whales spout a very large, very dense spout.

Tail Slap

Using their tail flukes a whale will forcefully slap the surface of the water from either a vertical or horizontal position. This is a common activity to witness, as some whales will begin a cadence of slapping for a short duration.

Fluke Up

After a peduncle arch, and before a dive, a humpback will bring his fluke out of the water. In a fluke-up dive, the entire ventral surface of the fluke is seen, making this perfect for the identification of the whale.


The whale will lift its head out of the water in a vertical orientation until just above his pectoral fin, and then spin slowly in a 180-degree fashion. Whales like watching humans too!

Fluke Down

In a fluke-down dive, less of the surface of the tail is visible and usually means the whale is going for a shallower dive.


Humpback whales are known for their beautiful song sessions, which are known to last several hours and up to 2 days. These sequences of moans, howls, cries, and other noises are quite complex and are specific to each individual population on humpbacks. Scientists are studying these sounds to decipher their meaning and what types of interactions follow these involved songs.

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