Yes ladies and gentlemen the weather may have been rough today but those brave whale watchers that joined us for the 13:00 and 14:00 whale watching tours were rewarded by seeing a breaching minke whale!
It is truly something seeing these magnificent creatures bringing at least 40% of their body from the water, and indeed the breach of a large whale is considered to be the most powerful action performed by any animal. It produces large splashes upon reentry into the water, which can be visible many kilometers away.
Its fair to say that any observer of cetacean gets excited to see a breaching whale and we all ponder the moment when we're the lucky ones. It is especially exciting to see the minke whale breach as it is not a frequent breacher. Over the years we have though been lucky enough to see the minke whales breach every now and but we felt it has been more frequent lately than before. These are the minke whale breaches we've seen this summer:
21 July at 13:00 & 14:00
8 July at 17:00
5 July at 20:30
3 July at 9.00
29 June at 20:30
13 June at 17:00 and 20:30
4 June at 10:00
Additionally we've seen humpback whales and dolphins breach / leap, but it is a much more commonly seen behavior amongst those than the minke whales.
As interesting as it is to see the breach it gets many wondering why the cetacean breach. Scientists have still not answered the question fully but there are few theories out there. One is that it is may help the animals when feeding by scaring, stunning, herding or trapping fish or other prey while another suggest that breaching is a form of communication. Breaching is then considered to be a signal of aggression, annoyance, an act of defiance or courtship or a display of strength by males. Some also consider it a simple playful act whereas other believe it to benefit the whale by stretching of its body, giving it a better view above the surface or helping them inhaling water-free air in rough weather.
Over the years we have most often seen the breaching minke whales in rougher weathers like today, suggesting that the water-free breathing could be the explanation for the breach. Who knows though maybe its a mixture of all of the factors mentioned above. If you want to read more about breaching whales we suggest to you the Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals.
It can be quite tricky getting a photo of the magnificent moment when the whales breach. To day passenger Jeannette Kobelt from Switzerland caught a nice photo of the minke whale and the splash it made. She was nice enough to share theses photos with us so we could share it with you :)