Every once in a while, the whale would stop breaching and roll on the side and start flipper slapping. Then the breaching would begin again, it would stop, flipper, repeat.
Another humpback started to move into the area and joined this breaching/flippering (pectoral slaps) humpback. This whale was much less active, but did do a couple of tail breaches. Humpback whales, like all baleen whales are solitary animals, but quite social. They form associations that may last a few minutes or even hours, days, sometimes weeks. So, it's not unusual to see one whale join another. Perhaps the breaching had something to do with it.
We don't know why whales breach, but have a few theories--perhaps communication or play. It may have different meanings at different times. We see both adults and juveniles and calves breaching, as well as males and females. We also see it on both the breeding ground and feeding ground. There is a slight increase in juvenile males doing this behavior, but it is not statistically significant. We do see a slight increase when the wind picks up and the seas build, which happened to us today.
With only a few minutes left, the skies opened and we found ourselves returning to port in a squall--down pour, gusting winds, lightning, which turned into rainbows and pink skies.