humpback tail slapping

From: Catherine Schaeff (
Date: Wed Mar 09 2005 - 10:52:47 EST

  • Next message: Catherine Schaeff: "Re: (no subject)"

    Hi Karen,

    Seems like folks aren't quite sure about what the tail slapping means -- divided opinion between related to feeding and breeding (see below).


    Tail Slapping
    The whale lifts its tail out of the water and slaps the water. This behavior is usually repeated several times and seems to be associated with feeding. Tail slapping often attracts birds and dolphins. (

    What is "Tail Slapping"

    This is when a whale will hit the surface of the water with its tail in a slapping motion. It is not quite known why they do this. Researchers have speculated that it is used by the males to either attract females or it is an aggressive posture to ward off other males. (


    Cathy Schaeff
    Associate Professor and Chair
    Department of Biology
    American University
    101 Hurst Hall, 4400 Mass. Ave. NW,
    Washington DC 20016-8007
    p: 202.885.2194, f: 202.885.2182

    -----"Karen Tollestrup" <> wrote: -----

    To: <>, <>
    From: "Karen Tollestrup" <>
    Date: 02/28/2005 04:00PM
    Subject: whales behavior

    Hi Professor Schaeff,
    I live in Hilo, Hawaii, and my house is on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. We see whales constantly during the winter months but lately I've noticed that the whales are slapping their tails on the water for 5 to 8 minutes at a time. Could you please tell me what this means. I tried looking it up but had no success. Thank you- Karen Tollestrup

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