Kayaker Captures Whale Sticking Tail Straight Out of Water

A kayaking YouTuber encountered a bizarre sight while paddling in the ocean — a frozen humpback whale with its tail sticking out of the water.

Brodie Moss, known as YBS, captured the very rare behavior — called tail sailing — while paddling in the open ocean in a transparent kayak in Western Australia.

It is not entirely clear why whales engage in tail sailing; some theorize that it is to catch the wind and “sail” through the ocean but in Moss’ video the humpback is stationary. It could be they are cooling down or feeding — we simply don’t know. But some species, such as the Southern right whale, are believed to do it more than others.

Moss, who posted the video back in August, excitedly says, “My heart is beating so fast, 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 is apparently accompanied by a drone because an aerial shot of the strange scene is shown and it’s clear the humpback is a female because it is accompanied by a calf.

“This is the craziest thing that’s ever happened, the transparent kayak is making the whales act so weird. It’s just come up and put its tail up in the air like that, it’s not even, I don’t even know what to say anymore,” Moss exclaims while floating next to the static humpback.

According to Whale Watch Western Australia, who themselves have captured a humpback tail sailing, the tail’s fluke sticking out of the water has been mistaken for a giant butterfly or a palm tree when spotted by people on land from miles away.

The whale tour company says that tail sailing has been spotted more frequently in warmer climates with both mother/calf and adults displaying the behavior. Therefore, it is possible the whale is keeping its body temperature cool by allowing the sea breeze to catch the large surface area of its fluke.

At the same time, it may also be feeding her calf while keeping cool and allowing its young to keep close to the surface for breathing.

Image credits: YBS Youngbloods