One of the most noticeable physical characteristics of humpback whales is their amazingly long pectoral fins, which can reach up to 5 metres in length, the longest limbs of any living animal on land or sea. Their scientific Latin name Megaptera novaeangliae reflects this, with ‘Mega-ptera’ translating as “big-winged”.
The shape and span of their pectoral fins aid in the fluid and graceful like and wide range of movements that humpbacks are known for. They are often dubbed the ‘Angels of the Sea’, because when they breach they appear like angels above the water’s surface.
The display of pectoral fin slapping by these whales is pretty remarkable to witness and is often seenduring our Ocean Odyssey trips. The whale will swim on its side or back and repeatedly raise its protracted fin into the air and slap it onto the surface of the water. The whales will either just let the fin casually drop or it will exert itself for more impact, resulting in a great big splash.