Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary today released rare video, taken with a drone, showing a humpback whale with its tail out of the water, seemingly catching the wind like a sail.
In the video, a humpback mother and calf are observed swimming and diving in the sanctuary off Maui’s leeward coast last month. At one point, the mother appears to be doing a headstand and drifting with her tail out of the water.
Scientists said tail-sailing is fairly common among southern right whales but has rarely been observed or documented among humpbacks.
There are strict regulations for the approach of whales and untrained public use of unmanned aerial equipment near wildlife. The drones in the Hawaii test were operated by trained professionals under approved NOAA and FAA permits, and the staging vessel was kept 100 yards away from the whales at all times.