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What was that sound? Pec Slapping Humpback Whales in Jervis Bay

3 November 2018 | DWC Blog

Have you heard a Humpback’s ‘pec slap’?
Where a whale ‘slaps’ its pectoral fin on the surface of the water. These fins can be up to 6ft long! Often the whale is resting on it’s back or side exposing its large white underside, which is quite striking against the deep blue sea – or our beautiful Jervis Bay.
Humpback Pec Slap - Jervis Bay - Dolphin Watch Cruises
We most frequently observe this behaviour on the Southern Migration and see Humpback Calves testing out this skill for the first time!
I sometimes describe it as the “thhaawopp!” sound a foam body board makes when it is slapped on the water at the beach. We’ve also heard customers say it sounds like a crocodile snapping it’s mouth..

A finding from recent research suggests ‘pec slapping’ could be more commonly used as a form of communication when the wind picks up as vocal sounds become less audible….

Humpback Whale Pec Slap - Dolphin Watch Cruises
The New Scientist article has more information for those curious about this peculiar behaviour and research.

Want to hear a pec slap yourself? Then book you ticket on a whale cruise today by clicking the button below.