Why Do Whales Breach?

why do whales breach

Why do whales breach? These movements, which occur when the whales are separating from each other, are energetically expensive. Whales tend to increase the frequency of breaching during the cold winter months when they are in their breeding grounds, which is when they are not feeding for months. Breaching also increases in frequency as whales grow larger. A four-foot-long, ten-ton whale can expend as much energy as twenty-five draft horses. A single draft horse can pull about four hundred and fifty kilograms (one ton), so the energy required for a whale’s 8.5-second breach can be enormous.

The purpose of a whale’s breach may be social. The breaching technique involves swimming quickly parallel to the surface, turning sharply, and then popping out of the water. The process may be done to show dominance, court a potential mate, or signal to another whale. It may also be done to show off their social status by peering above the water. And in some instances, it may be done to attract female attention.

Besides removing barnacles, another reason why whales breach is to remove parasites. Barnacles are extremely irritating and may cause whales to slam the surface of the water in order to remove them. However, studies on parasites have shown that this is only true of certain numbers of infested whales, and that the behavior of clean whales is not influenced by parasites.