By now you have likely seen plenty of nature documentaries featuring whales, from the peculiar songs they produce to the violent attacks of killer whales. We all know that Blue Whales are the largest of mammals, but without seeing one up close it’s hard to comprehend how vast in size the species really is.
Humpback whales, by no means the largest of the whale family, are still 39 to 52 feet long, weighing an average of 36,000 kg. Even their newborn calves are still much bigger than a human, though divers needn’t worry about getting eaten – their diet is mostly small fish and krill. Humpback whales are known for breaching the surface of the water, making the species a very popular attraction for whale watchers. When they break the surface, they typically throw only part of their bodies out of the water. At least, that’s what we’ve seen before. Now, recent footage has caught one of these gigantic mammals launching itself completely out of the water. Humpback whales can be found all across the world, as they typically migrate up to 25,000 km each year. They feed in the colder polar waters, then migrate to tropical or sub-tropical waters to breed and give birth. It was likely in the latter stage that this particular whale was caught on camera, leaping out of the water in the Indian Ocean. Just off the coast of Mbotyi, South Africa, one diver was lucky enough to see the phenomenon. Craig Capehart, a scuba diver whose 80+ videos on YouTube document his underwater exploits, was sitting in a “rubber duck” inflatable boat when he saw the whale emerge. While it is hot and dry in parts of America and Europe in July, it’s dark and freezing cold in South Africa at the moment, and so it was on a “clear crisp, cold winter day” offshore that he spotted the whale. They were hunting for sardines and the predators they attract, as it was the annual “South African Sardine Run”, wherein a mass of pilchards migrate up the east coast of Africa. The four scuba divers were waiting for hours in the day to catch something interesting, in particular groups of dolphins and sharks that are attracted by the sardines. But they got something even better. “Entertaining us while we wait are migrating humpback whales. Some are a mothers with calves. Some are males travellingin small groups.This day, there were few sardine sightings but the whales seemed to be everywhere! An unexpected bonus!This video shows a humpback whale mother cow swimming with a calf. It shows an adult 40 ton whale on its back, slapping both its left and right fins on the water, then leaping entirely out of the water! “It seems that never before has a recording been made of an adult humpback whale leaping entirely out of the water! A very rare event, indeed.Dolphins and even Great White Sharks have been seen flying out of the water, but this is a first for an adult humpback whale!” Humpback whales were once hunted to the edge of extinction, with population numbers falling by around 90 per cent before a moratorium in 1966. Whale hunting is still an issue, but luckily the species has vastly recovered and are not as at risk as they once were. There are still instances of cruelty and endangerment of whales across the world, for instance – did you ever hear the story of Tilikum?Here’s a look back at the life of the killer whale who inspired change.
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