Humpbacks at Play

Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) are highly social whales in an intraspecific context, but also in an interspecific context.  The stunning video below (where at times it’s hard to tell whether the whales are underwater or flying!!) highlights their propensity for what scientists consider to be play.  Dolphins, themselves known for their play behaviors, often get into the act.  It’s even been reported that humpbacks in Hawaiian waters (where this video was shot) will pick-up bottle-nose dolphins (Tursiops sp.) and lift them out of the water.  The dolphins don’t seem to mind, and in fact appear to be initiating the interaction by positioning their body for the lift.  When there are no dolphins to be had, humpbacks have been observed to play with other objects, such as seaweed.

 

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