Why Do Humpback Whales Pec Slap?

Why do Humpback Whales Pec Slap? Pectoral slapping is generally a very friendly or flirty behaviour amongst Humpback Whales and today we had a great example of the different ways it can be used in conversation. A beautiful morning with sunshine and a turquoise sea as we made our way to the sighting grounds and were escorted by the local Bottlenose Dolphins. Mothers and calves were resting calmly but out on the horizon we could see a conversation was starting to take place. Big pectoral slapping was happening as two adult whales were communication the Language of the Whales™ to all that were listening. A beautiful female was calling out and trying to see what males were in the area as her male escort tried to discourage the approach of any bachelors with a couple of big breaches. The female didn’t seem overly impressed with her escort as they always kept a good body length apart and she was set on trying to gain some attention by using her beautiful pectorals. Pec slapping can be used in this situation to attract attention towards themselves and she decided to flirt with us a bit by swimming right up underneath our bow and pec slapping ever so close, incredible to observe and listen to that immense power.

Our second pod was a cheeky and adorable calf, with all of her rolling around on the surface we were able to observe that she was a female calf. Playing with the seaweed and using mums back as a nice rolling platform, she was very much enjoying her time in the resting grounds. Our final mother and calf pod of the day decided it was a great opportunity to practice the Language of the Whales™ and school was in for the next fifteen minutes. Pec slapping was todays lesson as mum repeated the behaviour over and over again with double pec slapping also observed. Her young calf was encouraged by mums repeated behaviour and joined in with some mini pec slapping of his own. An incredibly special moment to watch as mother whales teach their calves how to communicate this important behaviour and one day this young calf will have five meter long, one thousand kilogram pectorals just like mum to wave a warm welcome towards all those around.

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