Booked a Whale Watching Trip? A Guide to Whale Surface Behaviours

While there’s no doubt you will have an amazing experience observing these majestic creatures, the more you know about whales, the richer the experience will be. In this article, we provide a basic outline of the various surface behaviours you will see when whale watching.

  • Blow – Whales are mammals and when they reach the surface, they force air out of their blow hole, which is behind the head and plumes of sea spray are visible, which helps the skipper to sight whales.
  • Fluke Up Dive – Humpback Whales do this when they are ready for a deep dive, which sends the fluke, or tail up before is disappears. It is not thought that this behaviour has a meaning, rather the whale is powering down and pushing up the fluke would aid such a maneouvre.
  • Pec Slap – The whale has two pectoral fins, which are quite large and they often lay to one side, raise a pec out of the water and slap it down hard on the water surface. This might be a form of communication with other whales, or it could be a way of removing parasites, we’re not really sure.
  • Tail Slap – Humpbacks like to sit vertically in the water and will often slap their tail down on the water; it is not unusual to see a whale do this 10-15 times in succession. If you are looking to book a trip whale watching, Narooma is the best port to leave and this is where the best boats operate from.
  • Spy Hop – We are certain that the spy hop is a way for the whale to view their surroundings, perhaps to see how far they are from the shoreline or whether there are large vessels, which are a constant danger to all species of whale. The whales can turn their heads to get a more complete view before they slide back into the water.
  • Breach – No doubt, the breach is the most spectacular of the many surface behaviours that are common to whales, which is when the whale launches itself out of the water, in many cases, leaving the water completely. There are no advanced warning signs when a whale decides to do this amazing feat and they have to dive down at least 100m to get the momentum to be able to launch themselves right out of the water. It might be showing off, as these are very intelligent creatures or it might be to remove parasites or simply because it’s fun!

Now that you know what to expect when you head out to sea, you will have an enriched experience when you book a whale watching trip from Narooma.

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