Ever wondered why sperm whales breach? This is a question we get asked often by our visitors, so I have put together what is hopefully some helpful information to this interesting question. While our visitors might think the whales are doing this to make for that Kodak moment it is likely they are breaching for other purposes. Likely theorises for breaching include competitive displays between males we only have the male sperm whales off the Kaikoura Coastline , it could be a warning of danger coming such as predators in the area. Another theory is that it could be some form of communication — sound travels faster in water than air and it could be a quick way to transmit information to other whales in the area. It has also been suggested that it might be a technique to stun or scare their prey which in turn helps them feed as well as shed loose skin which may be irritating them.
Whales are quite active in the water and display a range of spectacular surfacing behaviours. Experts believe that some of these behaviours help them to work out their position in relation to land, or allow them to communicate with other whales. Fin slapping may also be a warning of danger nearby. Another theory is that whales launch themselves out of the water and fall back with a splash to rid themselves of skin parasites. Of course, they may just be having fun! Breaching is a form of surfacing behaviour where most or all of the whale's body leaves the water.
Cetacean surfacing behaviour or breaching is a group of behaviours demonstrated by the Cetacea infraorder when they come to the water's surface to breathe. Time intervals between surfacing can vary depending on the species, surfacing style or the purpose of the dive, and some species have been known to dive for up to 85 minutes at a time when hunting. All regularly observed members of the order Cetacea, including whales, dolphins and porpoises, show a range of surfacing behaviours.
The next 10 days found the Beagle surveying the east coast of Tierra del Fuego. As the ship worked on completing its mission in the Atlantic, Darwin was taken by one of the most awesome sights to grace the ocean — breaching whales. We landed only once, which was at the mouth of what was formerly supposed to be St Sebastians Channel, it now turns out only to be a large wild bay.