“I don’t even know what to say.”
Australian kayaker and nature enthusiast Brodie Moss was astonished to find the massive tail fin of a humpback whale sticking straight out of the ocean surface, seemingly frozen a mere 30 or so feet away from him.
Moss, who has a substantial following on TikTok, documented the rare encounter in a fascinating video.
“My heart is beating so fast,” he said, clearly shaken by the puzzling view in front of him. “I think that’s a whale tail. It’s just come up and stuck its tail up, and it’s not going anywhere. I don’t even know what to say.”
Moss got stunning underwater footage of the whale, which was bobbing in the water in a handstand position, while a calf — likely its offspring — rests gently near it. His GoPro camera even picked up the whales’ beautiful song.
“I don’t really know what you guys are doing but I’m friendly,” Moss said in the video. “Thanks for coming to say hello to me,” he added, laughing.
As it turns out, the practice is likely a known but rarely observed behavior called “tail sailing.” As ScienceAlert points out, humpbacks, gray whales, bowhead whales, and right whales have also been periodically seen sticking their tail fins straight out of the water.
But why they do so remains a bit of a mystery. Some experts have suggested that the upside-down position may be a form of resting. Others have found that it may be a way for the whales to cool down in hot waters, by exposing their tails to wind.
In any case, it’s a stunning reminder that there’s still a lot to learn about these gorgeous mammals.
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