Why do whales breach?

From: Erich Hoyt (EHoyt@compuserve.com)
Date: Wed Feb 13 2002 - 05:25:15 EST


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Why do Whales breach?

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Lots of reasons have been given for whales breaching, most of which are
probably true at some time or other, depending on the particular situation,
behavior and the species.

In a wonderful article on p. 162 of the new Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals
(Academic Press, 2002: highly recommended!), Hal Whitehead says that the
breach may have the following functions:

- assisting in hunting, by scaring, stunning, herding or trapping fish or
other prey
- stretching, looking above the water, inhaling water-free air in rough
weather
- getting rid of parasites
- a form of communication, such as sending a signal related to aggression,
courtship
- a form of play, especially in younger animals.



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