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Being approached by an ocean animal is an exhilarating experience. Depending on the species, an animal will likely approach something or someone strictly out of curiosity.
A Blow is a misty cloud or column of moist air forcefully expelled through a blowhole when the whale surfaces to breathe. It is occasionally called a spout- which gives the mistaken impression that water is mainly ejected.
Breaching is a miraculous and awe-inspiring leap out of the sea enacted by numerous marine species (such as rays, sharks, dolphins, flying fish, and, most famed, whales). Breaching occurs for many reasons: to dislodge potentially irritating parasites or barnacles, to socialise with one another, and to play.
Chasing is a behaviour with a broad range of diverse connotations. To illustrate, a fish chasing another fish (regardless of species) could be chasing to defend territory, display dominance, secure a mate, predate or hunt, play or socialise, or purely out of stress.
Circling is a standard behaviour displayed by many marine megafaunas (turtles, penguins, whales, sharks, and seals) for varying purposes. For example, scientists suspect that sea turtles circle to navigate, detect, and orient themselves to the geomagnetic field. On the other hand, sharks often circle their prey before they strike.
Due to their torpedo-like and streamlined anatomy, sharks constantly appear to be serenely cruising through the water.
Display behaviour is a ritualised or stereotypical sequence of behaviours executed to influence a nearby animal. Displays are usually observable behaviours and can be conducted to socialise or communicate, for courtship and mating purposes, or in more aggressive manors to intimidate a predator, deceive threatening individuals, and hunt.
When diving to greater depths at rapid speeds, divers face the battle of pressure (which increases one atmosphere every 10 metres), nitrogen narcosis, oxygen deficiency, frigid temperature, and hindering buoyancy. Marine mammals have exclusive adaptations to combat such challenges. To name a few, they store oxygen in their muscles rather than their lungs, lower their heart rate, develop thick layers of blubber, and much more.
The term drifting can be used to describe a multitude of ocean movements, behaviours, and actions. Universally, something that 'drifts' can be considered buoyant enough to dwell at the surface or within the water column and flow with the ocean currents.
Marine mammals, vertebrates, and invertebrate species have evolved many contrasting feeding methods. The most common methods include filter feeding (employed by baleen whales, barnacles, clams, etc.), raptorial feeding (used by otters, multiple seal species, polar bears, and killer whales), and suction feeding (adopted by sperm and beaked whales, some seal species, sea birds, and turtles).
Although many fish stocks are overfished, more sustainable fishing practices and regulations are being explored and employed. Moreover, sustainable fishing plays a crucial role in food security, poverty eradication, and employment across the globe.
Fleeing is a natural predator-escape behaviour and is an innate reaction to distance oneself from a threat. Prey species have particular adaptations to strengthen their fleeing abilities (increasing agility, speed, overall swimming skills, and camouflage abilities).
Flipper slapping, as one may expect, is the motion of elevating a flipper out of the water and slamming it loudly against the sea surface. This behaviour is also called pec slapping and is how some marine mammals (such as whales and dolphins) communicate.
When a whale or dolphin initiates one of its grandiose deep dives, the tail is elevated into the air to help it thrust its body into a more steeply angled descent to deeper waters.
When marine creatures follow each other, it could indicate heaps of diverse behaviours. For instance, whale calves follow their mothers or pods, predators follow and track their prey, fish follow or stay within their shoals, and seals may follow anything that sparks their curiosity.
Many ocean enthusiasts might vouch for freediving over scuba due to the unrestricted movement and little impact on the surrounding marine life (with the lack of bubbles). On an intriguing note, a freediver's heart rate can decrease to three times lower than that of a coma patient during a free dive.
Marine species can protect themselves from threats by employing various strategies. For instance, one can use camouflage (adjusting the colour, skin texture, and overall appearance to blend with their surroundings) and hide (amongst the kelp, within reefs, between crevices, and in caves).
Hunting strategies range according to species. For example, predators usually either hunt individually or in groups. Group hunting is advantageous owing to higher odds and the likelihood of capturing prey bigger than the predators. Therefore, increasing hunting success and ultimately securing more sustenance. In ocean contexts, Dolphins, humpback whales, killer whales, and other fish species engage in complex hunting cooperation. Witnessing the diverse and intricate hunting phenomena is an experience outside the realm of imagination.
Also referred to as a tail slap, lobtailing is when a whale hoists its fluke (tail fin) out of the water and drives it down assertively to slap the surface. A whale might employ this behaviour to warn off a predator or threatening whale, to attract a mate, or to socialise with others in the pod.
Lunge feeding is a hunting behaviour executed by baleen whales and is when a whale charges with an open mouth through dense concentrations of fish or crustaceans to feed.
Playful behaviour (such as chasing, object manipulation, blowing bubbles, twisting, and splashing) is crucial for cetaceans and marine mammals to fully develop vital social, survival, and physical motor skills.
When faced with a threat or challenging situation, one might witness a whale retreat (or remove themselves) from their current position. This backward motion (although not common in many ocean species) is possible due to their large 15-foot pectoral fins.
While the cause of the rolling behaviour (rotating around the body's longitudinal axis) is unknown, several theories exist for their function, including play, communication and displaying excitement or annoyance.
Similar to the role of socialising in human development, socialising is an innate need vital for the growth, resilience, and survival of many marine species. As a result, scientists are finding it increasingly imperative to understand marine species' social structures better to ensure effective conservation.
Spyhopping is a behaviour in which an animal (such as a whale, shark, or dolphin) steadily raises its head vertically above the waterline and slips back below the surface. Spyhopping is believed to play a role in near-surface hunting and to be an act of curiosity or investigation.
Although many species (such as turtles and some marine mammals) display surfacing behaviours, Cetacea species (dolphins, whales, and porpoises) flaunt these behaviours most frequently. Cetaceans cannot breathe underwater for long and have to surface to retrieve oxygen. Some surfacing behaviours include blowing, breaching, fluking, and spy hopping.
Similar to lobtailing, tail slapping is when a cetacean elevates its tail out of the ocean and slams it down on the sea surface, generating a thunderous splash.
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