North Pacific humpback whale breaching in Alaska, USA
© Tony Wu/Minden Picture
Summertime in Alaska
Humpback whales are famous for breaching - leaping out of the water in a spectacular display of size and power. Even though they can weigh up to 40 tonnes and stretch to 50ft in length, they still manage aquatic acrobatics that are amazing to behold, as the picture on our homepage demonstrates. Scientists don't know why some whales breach but speculate it's a form of communication or a mating display. Or maybe they're just having fun.
This particular whale is in Frederick Sound in the US state of Alaska, one of the best places to see humpbacks in July. The whales return to the area in summer to dine on krill, herring and other delicacies in the cool waters. But as autumn approaches, they'll start their long journey south to spend the winter in tropical surroundings, as would any sensible mammal with the means to travel.