Andreas & Steffi Tacke, Germany – 4

tel slapping whale
Click to enlarge then click again

This photo taken an hour earlier than yesterday’s post shows a humpback whale fluking or lobtailing. Lobtailing is the act of a whale lifting its fluke out of the water and then bringing it down onto the surface of the water hard and fast in order to make a loud slap. Large whales tend to lobtail by positioning themselves vertically downwards into the water and then slapping the surface by bending the tail stock.  They are likely to slap several times in a single session. The sound of a lobtail can be heard underwater several hundred metres from the site of a slap. This has led to speculation amongst scientists that lobtailing is, like breaching, a form of non-vocal communication. Also some suggest that lobtailing in humpback whales is a means of foraging. The hypothesis is that the loud noise causes herring to become frightened, thus tightening their school together, making it easier for the humpback to feed on them.