A picturesque moment was captured on Tuesday afternoon when two humpback whales breached simultaneously off Manly, on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.
Blake Horton, owner of Manly Ocean Adventures, raced out to the whales after spotting them from Manly’s North Head.
“We saw these guys going crazy, about four nautical miles off shore, due east of Manly beach,” said Blake. “Thankfully they were still jumping when we got there.”
A synchronised breach is a rare sight.
Blake, who runs whale watching tours, said the double breach was a particularly special sight.
“I’ve only ever seen three double breachings. It’s pretty rare. And the other ones I’ve seen haven’t been so synchronised [as this],” he said. Blake captured each moment of the breach, showing how in-sync the two whales were.
While whales often breach together, these two appear to mirror each other completely, synchronised in rise and fall. Blake believes the pair could have been a mother and calf, as one was significantly smaller than the other.
“If it was a mother and a calf, the calf wasn’t a newborn. It was a year old at least, born last season,” he said.
The humpbacks were part of a larger pod travelling from Antarctica to the tropical waters of north Queensland. It is currently the peak of the northern migration season, which runs from May to August.
Marine biologists and cetologists suggest a few theories for why whales breach. Between male whales, it could operate as a competitive display. Other possibilities are that breaching is a warning signal against threat or a form of communication across long distances.
If the whales are mother and calf, the mother could have been teaching the calf how to breach, Blake suggested.