Four SCUBA divers got the view of a lifetime when they ventured out on the Indian Ocean one day. The crew took out a small inflatable boat on a winter day off the shore of Mbotyi in Pondoland, Eastern Cape province, South Africa.
The SCUBA divers were out that day because of the annual “South African Sardine Run.” The sardine run describes the mass migration of pilchard fish as they journey up the eastern coast of Africa. However, the men explain that they aren’t actually interested in the sardines. They’re out there to see the predators that the fish attract.
While the fish migrate, bottlenose and common dolphins will herd their long lines into giant “bait balls.” Once the compact bait ball is formed, other predators join in to create a huge feeding frenzy. These feeding frenzies attract dolphins, sharks, and birds.
The divers explain that most of their day was filled with just hours of waiting and watching and more waiting until they can finally find the elusive bait ball of sardines, which will undoubtedly reveal their coveted predators. Others would radio activity to the team and then the divers would take off at high speeds to the described location.
Fortunately, the divers found some humpback whales to keep them company while they waited. Some of the whales were mothers and calves while others were small groups of males.
The whales all took turns leaping out of the water, splashing around, and slapping their fins on the water. You can hear from the crew’s excited exclamations that they were thoroughly impressed and entertained by their whale friends.
However, one sight left the crew in utter shock. Among the other splashes and sightings, the video shows an adult male humpback whale swimming on his back and slapping his fins against the top of the water. Then, suddenly, the whale leaps completely out of the water! The slow-motion repeat of the event makes it look as if the whale was flying.
The divers explain that Great White Sharks and dolphins have been known to breach and jump fully out of the water, but this is the first time a humpback whale has been caught doing so on camera. The very rare leap was performed by a whale who likely weighed in at about 40 tons. Yet, he flies very gracefully through the air.
Whales are thought to breach in order to communicate with others over long distances. Whales can transmit important information – like size and location – over these great distances by breaching. It’s also theorized that male whales will breach to intimidate other males.
Whatever the reason may be that this whale breached, the sight is amazing. Fortunately, the crew caught the whole event on camera for the rest of the world to see. The incredible video currently has almost seven million views!
Watch the video below to view the full breach.
All screenshots taken from Craig Capehart / YouTube.