Subject: Does whale breaching hurt?

Jennifer D. Philips (
Fri, 30 Oct 1998 10:53:32 -1000

> How do whales not hurt themselves when they jump out of the water and
land backwards?       

What a question!  Lets see, imagine that you are standing on a platform
only about 6 inches above the water and you fall over into the water below.
 Do you think that would hurt, or just make a huge splash.  Mostly you're
fall would be cushioned by the water.  If you had an itch on your skin, the
water might be able to "scratch the itch" when it hits you skin, but it
probably would not hurt.  That's what it must be like for whales.  When
whales jump out of the water to breach (like you described), they can only
barely clear their whole body out of the water.  Then they fall back in,
falling from only a couple feet, which is about 6 inches for your size.
They make a huge splash, and probably itch a scratch, and even make a loud
noise underwater that other whales can hear far away.  But they definitely
do not hurt themselves.  (Now, if they landed on a rock or on another
whale, that might hurt a little more.)

Thanks for that question!  Write again anytime.

Aloha - 
Jen Philips

Jennifer D. Philips

Marine Mammal Research Program
HIMB, University of Hawaii at Manoa
PO Box 1106			
Kailua, HI  96734
voice:  (808) 247-5063
fax: (808) 247-5831