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What do you know about cetacean behavior?

One of the reasons why we find whales, dolphins, and porpoises interesting is because they demonstrate a broad range of behaviors when at the ocean surface. Scientists use terms such as "breaching," "spyhopping," and "spouting" to discuss cetacean behaviors.

What words do you know about cetacean behavior?

What is breaching?

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Breaching is the term used when cetaceans leap clear out of the water. Whales, dolphins, and porpoises often display this behavior.  This humpback whale is breaching

What is flipper or fluke slapping?

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Flipper or fluke slapping is when a cetacean slaps the water with its flipper or fluke (a fluke is the word for a whale tail). This sometimes creates a very loud sound which has been described as sounding like a gun shot. This minke whale is flipper slapping

What is fluke waving or fluking up?

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The fluke is the tail of a cetacean. When the tail is raised vertically out of the water, this behavior is called fluke waving or "fluking up."  This humpback is fluking up

What is porpoising?

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This is a behavioral term to describe an animal moving in and out of the water in a series of high speed leaps. Dolphins, whales, seals, and even penguins have been observed porpoising.  This Pacific whitesided dolphin is porpoising

What is spouting or blowing?

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Whales, dolphins and porpoises must breathe air just like humans. However since cetaceans live in water, breathing is a little more difficult for them than it is for us.  Most whales can hold their breath for prolonged periods of time. To take a breath whales must swim to the surface and exhale through their blowhole. This action has been dubbed spouting, but is also called blowing. Different species have characteristic spouts, which often helps people identify whales. Blue whales have the highest spout which can rise up to 30 feet (9.1 meters).  Here is a blue whale spouting

What is spy-hopping?

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When a whale head sticks its head straight up out of the water this behavior is called spyhopping. Whales use their strong flukes to propel their heads out the water so that the animal can look at his/her surroundings. This pilot whale is spyhopping

What is sounding?

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Sounding is the term used for whale diving. Each species has a distinctive way of diving.  Most whales take a few breaths, arch their backs, raise their flukes and dive deeper into the water. This gray whale is sounding

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Information within the education website should not be cited in scientific journals or publications.


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