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The Morning GIF: Once in a whale

This GIF captures the rare sight of a humpback whale breaching.


Lorraine Murphy


Posted on Jul 10, 2012   Updated on Jun 2, 2021, 2:43 pm CDT

Here at the Daily Dot, we swap GIF images with each other every morning. Now we’re looping you in. In the Morning GIF, we feature a popular—or just plain cool—GIF we found on Reddit, Canvas, or elsewhere on the Internet.

Big air. Big surf. Big guy. Big deal. That’s this morning’s GIF.

A humpback whale is a breathtaking sight. None exist in captivity, and spotting one in the wild is a matter of wild luck, their recovery from commercial whale hunting notwithstanding. To see one launch itself out of the sea in a glorious breach maneuver and smack down into the salty waves is a rare privilege indeed, but one that, thanks to this GIF, we can all share.

Despite having studied the act for decades, mankind doesn’t quite understand exactly why whales breach. Sperm whales and humpback whales have different breaching styles: The former effectively performs a reverse dive, aiming upwards from a depth, while the latter swims parallel to the surface and suddenly twists into the air. It might be a warning signal, it might be an attempt to shake loose parasites, it may just be youthful showing off, and it may be the cetacean equivalent of bottle service, a way of demonstrating pulling power in front of the assembled multitudes.

In any case, it is glorious to watch. According to the 2,203 Tumblr notes, more than a few people agree with us.

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*First Published: Jul 10, 2012, 7:27 am CDT