When Andrew Boji Wang and Becca Fowles set off on a whale-watching tour of California's Monterey Bay, they knew they were in for a show. An aggregation of humpback whales has recently settled into the bay to feed (as we've seen in this close encounter involving two kayakers), and this particular excursion certainly delivered: onlookers were treated to an amazing display of not one, but five whales breaching together!

A quintuple breach like this is something the crew of Blue Ocean Whale Watch, who led the charter, had never seen before. "With double breaches, usually at least one of them will breach again," staff member Kate Cummings told GrindTV. "But these whales surfaced afterwards as if nothing had happened. It was truly one of the most amazing spectacles I’ve ever seen — and I’m pretty sure I’ll never see it again."

And not the only bit of synchronised swimming going on in the bay, check out this pair of "lobtailers":


Not only is this surface-slapping manoeuvre an effective communication technique (a single tail lob can be heard for several hundred metres underwater), but it's also been known to help humpbacks snag a meal. In bubble-net feeding, whales blow bubbles to corral small fish into dense groups, which can then be easily gulped down by the ocean giants. But in some cases, humpbacks have been observed slapping the water from the surface, before diving down to create the net. The exact advantages of this strategy are still being researched, but scientists have been observing the behaviour more and more since it was first noted in 1980. 

Humpback Whales Bumps Related Content 2015 03 20

Top header image: Michael Dawes/Flickr