[MARMAM] Rare beaked whale behaviour caught on film

Fabian Ritter, MEER e.V. ritter at m-e-e-r.de
Thu Nov 7 07:36:26 PST 2013

Dear Fellow MARMAMers,

with this we would like to let you know about the observation of a rare 
beaked whale behaviour which was also captured on film: off the Canary 
Islands, a group of animals was leaping with individual whales 
performing high jumps and breaches several times in a row – a behavior 
rarely ever seen - and difficult to explain.
We have observed leaping beaked whales off La Gomera on a few occasions, 
but never with such intensity like can be seen on the video images 
available through: http://m-e-e-r.de/index.php?id=563&L=2

Even with photographic images taken during the short encounter it was 
not possibly to identify the animals to the species level. It may have 
been Blainville’s beaked whales, a species commonly seen in the Canary 
Islands. But Gervais' or True beaked whales are possible candidates, too.

Beaked whales are known to be shy and generally behave in an 
inconspicuous manner. They usually avoid ships, are sensitive to 
disturbance and spend most of their time below the surface.
The reasons for their aerial behaviour remain unclear. On the one hand 
you can speculate that the animals were returning to the surface after a 
long dive at high speed, but this would not explain why some individuals 
appear to perform repeated leaps. On the other hand, beaked whales are 
known to be highly sensitive to noise disturbance. The footage was taken 
from a large fast ferry. The underwater sound of the ship, or from a 
different yet unknown noise source could have irritated them, too.

We are curious to learn from you what you think about this behaviour.

Best regards,


Fabian Ritter

M.E.E.R. e.V.
Bundesallee 123
D-12161 Berlin

T/F: (0)30-644 97 230
e-Mail: ritter at m-e-e-r.de


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