Andrew kelly Wildlife and Landscape Photography

Breaching Humpback Whale

Breaching Humpback Alaska


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Humpback Whale

Scientific Name:

Megaptera novaeangliae



Inside Passage, Alaska






Probably the most impressive whale behaviour to see is the humpback whale breaching. To see a 35 ton humpback whale raise its body out of the water is a humbling experience. It is thought that breaching behaviour is important in courtship and play. In this case the whale was on its own and although it could have been signalling to another whale that we couldn't see (a message to say I'm going or I'm here), I just got the feeling that it was playing.

We went whales watching many times in Alaska and even saw breaching on more than one instance. Normally, however, this behaviour was a kilometre away and by the time the boat was even turned, the whale had gone. On most humpback whale watching trips we were on, we saw whale flukes from diving whales.

This trip was special, for many reasons. There were only 5 of us on the boat and when we came across a pod of whales feeding on shoals of herring, the captain turned off the engine and we drifted there for about an hour with a hydrophone in the water. We listened to the whales both above and below the water (without taking pictures) and they really are a vocal and communicative species.

Keep in mind that if you go whale watching, you are lucky to see the animals, everything else is a bonus.